A Texas elementary school teacher is claiming that 20 of her 32 fourth-grade students came out to her as LGBTQ, according to internal messages from the district.
Austin Independent School District’s Blackshear Elementary School hosted a Pride parade for elementary school children, which the school’s principal described as a “Wellness Walk.” However, one teacher spoke out against having a “Wellness Walk” during Pride week.
“It takes away from the experience of celebrating Pride,” the teacher said in internal messages.
“I feel that it is inappropriate to call our parade this morning a ‘Wellness Walk’ at all. While I understand that Wellness Walk is something that was previously in motion to promote health and fitness and is something we want to continue, it really takes away from the experience of celebrating Pride to couple the two,” the teacher said.
“The first Pride was a riot. It was not enough to just ‘welcome,’ ‘love,’ and ‘celebrate’ Queer folx,” she continued. “Your allyship should always lead you to activism – speaking up and fighting for what is right, even when it feels uncomfortable. We can’t choose in and out of our protest spaces.”
The teacher also claimed that of the 32 fourth-grade students she teaches, “20 of them are LGBTQIA+ and have come out to me.”
“I feel that we need to do better – for them,” the teacher said. “To affirm our students, I think it would only be appropriate and right to publicly announce that what we had this morning was a PRIDE Parade.”
Principal Rick Garner clarified to parents and staff that the parade was not a “wellness walk,” but a Pride Parade.
“Thank you for participating in our Pride Parade this morning,” the email reads. “It was never my intention to confuse the staff or students by calling our Pride Parade a wellness walk. Our objective was to celebrate differences and promote inclusivity.”
Austin Independent School District recently faced backlash after an elementary school Pride week flier asked five-year-old students to keep conversations on LGBT topics “confidential.”
The district said that community circles were meant to be confidential “in the sense that makes students feel trusted and respected for their privacy.”
“It does not mean don’t tell your parents,” the district’s media relations specialist said. “Every parent has the right to opt-out of these activities … Everyone, not just parents, has access to the community circles materials ahead of time.”