A Wisconsin teacher who opposed her public school district’s choice to exclude the song Rainbowland, which celebrates inclusivity, from a children’s concert at her campus, was removed from her position.
The Waukesha, Wisconsin, public school board unanimously decided to fire Melissa Tempel from her position on Wednesday, citing a violation of district policy regarding the teacher’s defense of the Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton duet that occurred when she did not consult her superiors first.
According to reports from local television station WISN as well as other media outlets, Tempel and her supporters have argued that she was exercising her constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech but was punished because the song in question makes reference to rainbows, a significant symbol of the LGBTQ+ community.
As reported by the site, Waukesha School District Superintendent James Sebert claimed at the hearing that Ms. Tempel’s actions was untenable. “Ms. Tempel deliberately brought negative attention to the school district because she disagreed with the decision as opposed to following protocol and procedure,” he said. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Waukesha Alliance for Education has openly called for the DOJ to look into allegations that Sebert has a history of discriminating against LGBTQ students.
In a statement to WISN, Tempel told reporters she missed her kids at the hearing, which brought a quiet protest of many who supported the well-liked teacher, including young children carrying rainbow-colored banners.
Since March, Tempel hasn’t been able to contact them. “I really miss you guys. I love you. I really wanted to be there with you this year. I hope that we get to see each other really soon,” Tempel added.
When asked if there was anything she would have done differently, she responded, “Probably not, no.”
We are moving on with the next stages, and Ms. Temple looks forward to defending her rights in federal court, according to her attorney, who was quoted by the source as saying, “This is not a case about culture wars or rainbows; it’s a fight about fundamental rights.