Since the song “might be regarded as provocative,” administrators at a Wisconsin elementary school prevented a first-grade class from playing a Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton duet promoting LGBTQ inclusion.
For their spring concert, Heyer Elementary School students in Waukesha had rehearsed a performance of “Rainbowland,” but school administrators removed the song last week. Parents in the district claim that because the song promotes LGBTQ inclusiveness and makes use of rainbows, the decision was made.
As “Rainbowland” might not be “appropriate for the age and maturity level of the students,” authorities had it pulled from the first-grade concert, according to Fox6, according to Superintendent James Sebert, who did not immediately answer a phone on Monday.
He also mentioned a school board rule against discussing contentious subjects in class. Sebert previously forbade the display of rainbow and pride flags in Waukesha classrooms and put the district’s equity and diversity initiatives on hold until 2021.
“Let’s all dig down deep inside, brush the judgment and fear aside,” the song from Cyrus’ 2017 album “Younger Now” goes. “Living in a Rainbowland, where you and I go hand in hand. Oh, I’d be lying if I said this was fine, all the hurt and the hate going on here.”
Melissa Tempel, a first-grade teacher, said she picked the song because it seemed to have a lovely, universal message. The topic of the class concert was “The World,” and other songs performed included “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong and “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles.
“My students were just devastated. They really liked this song and we had already begun singing it,” Tempel said Monday.
According to Tempel, administrators first prohibited the Muppets’ song “Rainbow Connection,” but they eventually changed their minds.
According to Tempel, the song’s removal has incensed parents. She was more worried about the effects that the prohibition and other district laws prohibiting showing support for LGBTQ people would have on pupils.
“These confusing messages about rainbows are ultimately creating a culture that seems unsafe towards queer people,” she said.
Emails sent to Parton and Cyrus’s representatives on Monday seeking their opinions on the restriction did not receive a prompt response.
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Elections for Wisconsin’s school boards, particularly those in Waukesha, have recently gotten more politicized. In the 2022 state school board elections, Republicans made significant gains, and they have since utilized these positions to attack legislation ranging from COVID-19 limits to laws governing transgender children.
Harm Venhuizen is a member of the Statehouse News Initiative Corps for the Associated Press/Report for America. A nonprofit national service program called Report for America places journalists in local newsrooms to cover unreported stories. Venhuizen can be followed on Twitter.