North Carolina preschool teacher who used LGBTQ flashcards quits

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A Wake County teacher has quit amid controversy over the use of LGBTQ-themed flashcards in her preschool classroom.

The preschool teacher, who was not immediately identified by the Wake County school system, resigned Friday from Ballentine Elementary School in Fuquay-Varina, according to district spokeswoman Lisa Luten.

Some critics on social media had demanded the teacher be fired, but a parent in this special needs preschool class praised the teacher as a caring educator.

“She is an incredible teacher who has worked tirelessly through an unpredictable school year to provide a safe, loving and inclusive classroom for our children to grow up,” Jackie Milazzo, whose child is in the class, said on Tuesday. preschool.

The issue came to light on Friday, when NC House Speaker Tim Moore issued a press release stating that Rep. Erin Paré had been contacted by a constituent that flash cards were being used to teach children about colors. a preschool class in Ballentine.

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The LGBTQIA+ flashcards that North Carolina House Republicans say were used in a preschool class at Ballentine Elementary School in Fuquay-Varina to teach kids colors. Office of NC House Speaker Tim Moore

“Not age appropriate”

The two Republican lawmakers zeroed in on a flashcard, saying it showed a pregnant man. The flash card shows a drawing of a pregnant person with short hair.

“A lot of loving families come in all different shapes and sizes and thank goodness for that,” Paré said in a Tuesday interview on Fox News. “Children need loving families right now more than anything else.

“But I think when you look at a card in front of a preschooler that has a mommy hugging a daddy with a baby in her belly, that’s just not age-appropriate material to show preschoolers. preschooler, and I’m glad the principal and the district acted immediately.

Paré contacted the director, who had the flash cards removed. In a statement Friday, the district said the superintendent was unaware the cards were being used.

Wake, which is North Carolina’s largest school district, also said the flashcards were not part of an approved pre-kindergarten curriculum and called them “an inappropriate educational resource found in a preschool classroom.”

“The Loudest Voices Filled With Hate”

The issue comes as Republican lawmakers in the state are considering bills that would prevent teaching about gender identity and sexual orientation for some or all elementary grades.

Milazzo accused Republican lawmakers of misrepresenting how flash cards were used. She said the flash cards weren’t used to teach colors or any other direct instruction. Instead, she said they were displayed on a wall in the art center.

Milazzo called the controversy a publicity stunt because the flash cards were not on display when the issue arose on Friday.

“They wanted to piss people off at the expense of our children’s safety,” Milazzo said. “My child with special needs is being used as a prop and I hope anyone reading about this will remember come November when it comes time to vote that this does not support our children, does not support our teachers, does not support our schools,

“He’s addressing the loudest hateful voices in the community that don’t represent the Ballentine community.”

Police on campus on Tuesday

The flashcard news generated national coverage, with some people condemning the teacher, school and district on social media.

Fuquay-Varina police were on campus Tuesday morning during the carpool drop-off and will likely return during the afternoon dismissal, according to city spokeswoman Susan Weis. She said the police were called in by the school district’s security department. No other elementary school in the city had police on Tuesday.

Luten said no specific threats were made against Ballentine but some parents were concerned for their children’s safety following the response to the flash cards.

Milazzo said parents in the preschool class were nervous, especially after last week’s mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas. She accused Moore and Pare of putting children’s safety at risk by making flash cards a public issue.

“They put a target on our kids’ backs where our teachers are called groomers and say our kids are being brainwashed,” Milazzo said. “If they were concerned about the safety of our children, they would focus on common sense gun reform – not drawings in a preschool classroom.”

“Loved As They Are”

The flash cards are the “Progress Pride Flag Rainbow Families” collection produced by ByUs Box, which says its goal is to guide families in raising anti-racist and inclusive children. It is a set of 12 flash cards showing families of various races, ages, sexualities, genders and abilities.

Milazzo said the school’s pre-K class serves students with special needs. She says these flash cards help children know they are loved, regardless of family dynamics.

“It’s important for these kids and all the kids in the classroom to know that being different isn’t scary,” Milazzo said. “It’s okay. They are loved just the way they are, no matter what their family is like.

Milazzo said she was disappointed with how the school system labeled the cards as inappropriate.

“I can’t imagine what it would feel like as a parent represented by these images to have the district call them inappropriate or a child who may have seen their family in them having the photos taken down,” he said. said Milazzo.

This story was originally published May 31, 2022 12:31 p.m.

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T. Keung Hui has been covering K-12 education for the News & Observer since 1999, helping parents, students, school employees and the community understand the vital role education plays in North Carolina. Its primary focus is Wake County, but it also covers statewide education issues.

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