MADISON, Wisconsin (AP) — Officials at a Wisconsin elementary school have suspended a first-grade class from performing duo Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton to promote LGBTQ acceptance because the song “could be seen as controversial.”
Students at Heyer Elementary School in Waukesha prepared a rendition of “Rainbowland” for their spring concert, but school officials whacked the song from the lineup last week. Parents in the area say the decision was made because the song promotes LGBTQ acceptance and makes reference to rainbows.
Superintendent James Seibert, who did not immediately return a call Monday, confirmed that Fox 6 that officials had removed “Rainbowland” from the first grade recital because it might not be “appropriate for the age and maturity level of the students”. He also cited the school board’s policy against raising controversial issues in classrooms.
Sebert previously banned rainbows and pride flags from appearing in Waukesha classrooms and suspended the district’s equality and diversity work in 2021.
“Let’s all dig deep, put judgment and fear aside,” says the song from Cyrus’ 2017 album Younger Now. “Living in the Land of the Rainbow, where you and I get along. Oh, I’d be lying if I said that’s fine, all the hurt and hate going on here.”
First grade teacher Melissa Temple said she chose the song because its message seemed universal and sweet. The theme of the concert was “The World” and included other songs such as “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles and “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong.
“My students were just devastated. They really loved this song and we really started singing it,” Temple said Monday.
Officials also initially banned the song “Rainbow Connection” from The Muppets but later reversed that decision, according to Temple.
Temple said parents were outraged that the song had been removed. But she was more concerned about what the ban and other district policies meant against expressing LGBTQ support for students.
“These confusing messages about rainbows ultimately create a culture that seems insecure about LGBT people,” she said.
Spokespeople for Parton and Cyrus did not immediately respond to emails Monday asking the artists’ thoughts on the ban.
Wisconsin school board races, including in Waukesha, have become increasingly partisan in recent years. Republicans Saw big gains Across state school board races in 2022 and positions have been used to challenge policies from Rules about transgender children to COVID-19 restrictions.
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