“When will it end?” said Melissa Tempel, a first-grade teacher in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on Twitter after the school board removed rainbow-themed music from an upcoming concert.
A first-grade teacher in Wisconsin is speaking out after several rainbow-themed songs were removed from her pupils’ spring show.
Melissa Tempel, a dual language teacher at Heyer Elementary, blasted the Waukesha County Board of Education for banning the Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton song “Rainbowland” and the Muppet Movie classic “Rainbow Connection.”
“My first graders were enthusiastic to sing ‘Rainbowland’ during our spring musical, but our administration vetoed it. When will it be over?” Tempel wrote on Twitter.
Supt. James Sebert of the Waukesha School District did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Tempel also released lyrics from their 2017 collaboration, which included on Cyrus’ sixth studio album Younger Now: “Living in a Rainbowland / The skies are blue, and everything is grand / Wouldn’t it be nice to live in paradise / Where we’re free to be exactly who we are.”
“Let’s all delve deep inside / Brush away the judgment and fear,” the song continues. “Make the bad things right / And put a stop to the war / ‘Cause I promise nobody’s going to win (come on).”
Although Tempel was told the song was banned because Cyrus, 30, “is controversial,” she “felt for sure” Parton’s popularity influenced the decision among drag queens and the LGBTQ community.
“But I can’t stop my students from singing ‘Rainbowland.’ It’s a great and catchy tune!”
Tempel said that “Rainbow Connection” had been unbanned due to emails from parents and the local organization Alliance for Education. “I’m not sure where I’d be without them,” she said.
According to Becky Gilligan of the Alliance for Education, the organization “continues to advocate for our community” and that “this is the most recent decision by a school district administration intent on stifling diversity and denying equality to the community it serves, further ostracizing Waukesha in the eyes of the nation.”
Sarah Schindler, whose daughter is in Tempel’s class, told the Los Angeles Times that the school board recently underwent a “conservative flip” due to community outrage over COVID-19 rules.
“With it came some policy changes that have caused some debate in our community,” Schindler explained. “One of these is a contentious policy stating that teachers are prohibited from displaying political signage. Another topic that came up was the discussion of pronouns with students. Teachers are also not permitted to wear rainbows.”
According to the Waukesha School District’s nondiscrimination policy, the district “does not discriminate in its admissions, programs, activities, services, or employment” on any basis banned by federal law, expressly including “sexual orientation” in its list of protected groups.
After Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed H.B. 1557, sometimes known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, into law last March, numerous states followed suit, making it unlawful for teachers to discuss sexual orientation and gender identity with children.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, 340 pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation were introduced in the United States in 2023 as of last month.