Miley Cyrus' nonprofit responds to Waukesha school axing 'Rainbowland' from first-grade concert

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A nonprofit founded by Miley Cyrus has responded to Cyrus' and Dolly Parton's song "Rainbowland" being disallowed from a Waukesha elementary school's first-grade spring concert over concerns it would be controversial.

In a series of tweets Wednesday, the Happy Hippie Foundation encouraged Heyer Elementary School's first graders to "keep being YOU," and also announced it would be making a donation to Pride and Less Prejudice, an organization that provides free LGBTQ-inclusive books to classrooms.

Happy Hippie's mission is "to rally young people to fight injustice facing homeless youth, LGBTQ youth and other vulnerable populations," according to its website.

The announcement was bittersweet for Melissa Tempel, a first grade dual language teacher at Heyer. While she thinks it's "amazing" that more kids will get the books Pride and Less Prejudice gives out into their hands, she said she doesn't believe that those books would be permitted in her district due to a policy it has on "controversial issues in the classroom."

Foundation celebrates Heyer first-grade students, teacher wants all students to feel 'wanted and accepted for who they are'

On Wednesday, the Happy Hippie Foundation shared these "Rainbowland" lyrics in a tweet: “We are rainbows, me and you Every color, every hue Let's shine on through … TOGETHER WE CAN START LIVING IN A RAINBOWLAND.”

The tweet said that when Cyrus and her "fairy godmother" Parton "wrote these words together, they meant it."

Happy Hippie dedicated its next tweet to "the inspiring first grade students" at Heyer and encouraged them to keep being themselves.

"We believe in our Happy Hippie heart that you’ll be the ones to brush the judgment and fear aside and make all of us more understanding and accepting," the tweet said, followed by a rainbow emoji.

In "honor and celebration" of the students' "bright" futures, the foundation announced on Twitter that it would be making a donation to Pride and Less Prejudice. The group has sent more than 7,500 free LGBTQ-inclusive books to over 3,000 pre-kindergarten through third grade classrooms, according to its website.

Some of the books Pride and Less Prejudice gives out, depending on the bundle, include "Calvin" by JR and Vanessa Ford; "Jacob's School Play: Starring He, She, and They" by Sarah and Ian Hoffman; and "Téo's Tutu" by Maryann Jacob Macias; among many others.

"We won't be able to have those books at our school," Tempel said. "According to what was said from the foundation, that they're LGBTQ-inclusive books, and so those most likely won't be approved to be used in our district because of the ban on controversial content."

She said that moving forward, the district's policies need to be clarified.

For example, she said, she was told by her administrator that she's allowed to wear heart earrings that are rainbow colored, and also a trans pride pin. But she is not allowed to have a pride flag hanging in her classroom.

No administrators are explaining, at least publicly, what about the song could be considered offensive.

"I just want kids in our district to go to school feeling wanted and accepted for who they are," Tempel said. "Whatever they believe in, I think that all students need to feel accepted and welcome in school. And right now, there is one specific group that's not being welcomed or accepted. And so that's why I'm speaking out on behalf of them."

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Miley Cyrus foundation responds to Waukesha school axing Rainbowland