Missouri teacher resigns over Pride flag dispute after parent said the teacher could 'teach their child to be gay'

·3 min read
The LGBTQ pride flag.
A teacher resigned after being threatened with termination for having a pride flag in his classroom. Daniel Knighton/Getty Images
  • Missouri teacher John Wallis resigned after he was threatened with termination for displaying a pride flag in his classroom.

  • A parent complained about Wallis, saying he "would potentially teach their child to be gay," NBC News reported.

  • After resigning, Wallis filed a civil rights complaint for employment discrimination.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

A Missouri teacher resigned from his job after he was threatened with termination for displaying a LGBTQ pride flag and inclusive signs in his classroom.

John Wallis was only two days into the school year at Neosho Junior High when he was called into a meeting with administrators regarding a pride flag that he displayed in his classroom, NBC News reported.

In a Twitter thread, Wallis, who taught speech and drama, said that he hung the flag along with signs that said "In This Classroom EVERYONE is Welcome."

"This was an attempt to make my classroom more open and welcoming for all of my students, and nothing was ever taught about the flag because it stood there as a reflection of my classroom as a safe space for my LGBTQIA+ students," Wallis tweeted on September 4.

Several students thanked Wallis, NBC reported.

"They said: 'Thank you for having the flag up. I wouldn't know where else to go,'" Wallis said, according to NBC.

When Wallis was called in to meet with school administrators, he was told that a parent called the school, concerned that Wallis "would potentially teach their child to be gay," NBC News reported. The administrators, one of whom compared the pride flag to a confederate flag, according to NBC, told Wallis to remove the flag and signs. He did.

"This of course prompted students to ask why, and I answered truthfully while expressing that, if students had a problem with who I was, there were other open classes," Wallis tweeted. "This led to three or more calls from parents accusing me of pushing my agenda in the classroom."

Wallis added on Twitter that he was asked to sign a letter agreeing to not "discuss human sexuality or my own personal sexuality in the classroom."

The letter, which was shared with Insider, further said that if Wallis was "unable to present the curriculum in a manner that keeps your personal agenda on sexuality out of your narrative and the classroom discussions, we will ultimately terminate your employment."

Wallis signed the letter but then resigned the following day, NBC reported. On Twitter, Wallis said the letter "was the reason for my resignation."

"Indeed, it appears that there is a different set of rules if you are an LGBTQ+ educator," Wallis tweeted. "There is never a problem when a heterosexual teacher displays pictures of themselves and their spouses in a classroom, but I have a flag and all hell breaks loose."

Wallis has filed a civil rights complaint with the Department of Education, NBC reported.

"My administrators chose to believe the bigotry of parents over their building's teacher. To say I am devastated is an understatement," Wallis tweeted.

Jim Cummins, the Neosho School District superintendent, shared a statement that was sent to NSD community members titled "All means all" but did not comment further. The statement said "All means all" has been a motto for the school district "to provide a physically and emotionally safe learning and working environment."

"Our practice is to NOT discriminate against anybody regardless of whether or not they are part of a protected class," the statement read, while adding that teachers can not teach "religion, politics, or any other topic that is outside of the adopted curriculum."

Wallis told Insider that NSD's statement "does not excuse the letter that was specific to me because of my sexual orientation."

"But this was clearly different from religion and politics," Wallis said. "Those are belief systems/ideologies; whereas, me being gay is not, rather it is a part of who I am as a human."

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