Teacher says she was forced to remove rainbow stickers from her classroom door supporting gay and transgender rights. Now, the educator claims the high school the district is terminating her contract at the end of this school year. The high school teacher believes she was removed because she has been outspoken in advocating for gay and transgender students and encouraging journalism students to investigate the sticker removal. She says that she doesn’t want to leave K-12 education, because she cares.
The high school teacher from Texas, Rachel Stonecipher, was teaching English and journalism at MacArthur High School. Unfortunately, she and a colleague were placed on administrative leave in September 2021, NBC News reports.
According to reports, it all started with teachers posting small rainbow stickers, a symbol of the gay pride movement, outside their classrooms to show students that they were allies. In August 2021, the administration required that all the stickers come down, explaining that decorations in classrooms, hallways or offices must be neutral in viewpoint to ensure that all students feel safe regardless of background or identity.
Stonecipher says that their removal caused hundreds of students to walk out of class last fall in protest. The teacher was then moved to a different school in the district. Last month, she was notified that the district plans to terminate her contract.
According to the high school teacher, since she was moved to a different school, gay and transgender students said they have been called homophobic slurs and bullied with school staff members failing to intervene, according to reports.
Some students said they’re discouraged by the school district’s response to the concerns they’ve raised through the GSA and school board meetings, and they feel less safe at school than they did a year ago.
The school district’s attorney, Dennis Eichelbaum, released the following statement: “These stickers are part of a personal agenda. They’re giving the wrong impression — they may be endangering students.”
The school district released a statement and said it does not retaliate against employees for expressing their personal viewpoints but district policy prohibits teachers from using the classroom to transmit their personal beliefs.
“Labeling certain classrooms as safe havens for certain groups could communicate to students who do not see themselves reflected in that classroom’s decorations that they are unwanted or unsafe in those rooms.” the statement reads.
During an interview with NBC News, the high school teacher said that she plans to move to higher education for work after this school year.
Stonecipher reportedly said: “I don’t want to leave K-12 education, because I care. But it’s people like me who leave K-12 education because they care.”
The high school teacher believes she was removed because she has been outspoken in advocating for gay and transgender children and encouraging journalism students to investigate the sticker removal.
The human resources office reportedly believed that the teacher had called MacArthur’s principal homophobic. The English teacher told NBC News that this is not true.