First-Grade Teacher Who Called Out Miley Cyrus "Rainbowland" Ban Placed on Administrative Leave

Melissa Tempel at Heyer Elementary had voiced concern for the Waukesha School District's ban

BY Allie GregoryPublished Apr 13, 2023

Last month, Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton became the centrepiece of a confusing, seemingly homophobic battleground in Waukesha, WI, when their song "Rainbowland" was curiously banned from being performed by first-graders at Heyer Elementary.

At the time, educator Melissa Tempel spoke out against the ban, telling reporters that she chose the song because its message seemed "universal and sweet," and that banning it would lead to "confusing messages about rainbows are ultimately creating a culture that seems unsafe towards queer people."

Now, Tempel has been placed on administrative leave after district officials explained that the impetus for the ban "was around whether the song was appropriate for the age and maturity level of the first-grade students."

As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, Tempel has declined to comment on the matter, instead pointing to a statement from the Alliance for Education in Waukesha, a group of Waukesha parents asking for an investigation into superintendent James Sebert on claims that he discriminates against LGTBQ+ students and staff.

"This Superintendent and Board began the march toward marginalization last year, and it has only served to stoke fear and sow distrust in the Waukesha Community, which has yielded a pattern of bullying against anyone who calls out the district's bias and harassment," their statement reads. "Now Waukesha is a national laughingstock and the blame for that falls squarely to the feet of the district's leadership, not those who have the courage to hold them accountable, like Ms. Tempel."

At the time of the ban, Cyrus announced that her Happy Hippie Foundation would be donating to an LGBTQ+ book organization, Pride and Less Prejudice, writing: "To the inspiring first-grade students at Heyer Elementary, keep being YOU. 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."

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