LGBTQ+ support message in classroom sparking debate

A whiteboard message in an Estill County school is resulting in death threats to a music teacher

IRVINE, Ky. (WTVQ) – There’s controversy at an Estill County school surrounding the message a music teacher wrote on his whiteboard with the gay and transgender pride flags drawn around it. It’s sparking debate over how topics like sexuality should be handled in class.

Tyler Clay Morgan was the West Irvine Intermediate music teacher for 3rd through 5th graders, until Monday when he resigned.

Actual Cropped00000000His resignation comes after a photo of a whiteboard message circulated on social media, drawing heat from some parents and community members. It featured the gay and transgender pride flags with the message “You are free to be yourself with me. You matter!”

Morgan says he’s received death threats.

“I still firmly believe more work needs to be done in Kentucky, especially in Eastern Kentucky, to ensure that more resources are provided to make sure all students feel safe, secure, and seen, not just the ones that come out as part of any community or share hardships,” says Morgan in a Facebook post. “My hope is that every educator that sees this is empowered, passionate, and actively working to make a change in the world of education as I am.”

Superintendent of Estill county schools, Jeff Saylor, released the following statement:

“Over the past few days there has been a lot of conversations and misinformation surrounding the incident at West Irvine Intermediate School.  A lot of this conversation centered on the statement, ‘You are free to be yourself’.  As superintendent, my issue has not been with this statement because we have to meet the needs of all of our students and families.

“The issue at hand is the conversations that took place during class.  I firmly believe that students and their parents expect teachers to teach content about their assigned curriculum in a subject area.  Of course, there are times that conversations may vary from that day’s lesson plan, but these conversations went far beyond the music curriculum.  It is my job to make sure that parents are not surprised by these types of situations.  Finally, I believe that all teachers have a responsibility to be supportive of their students, but when students share difficult situations and circumstances with them, the student should be referred to a certified school counselor.  Our counselors have been trained to deal with these delicate issues and provide support.

“This matter has been addressed and closed.  I will not be making any further comment out of respect for everyone involved.”

The Fairness Campaign, a Kentucky LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, says LGBTQ+ youth have a much higher rate of things like suicide, depression and isolation, and conversations like those had by Morgan could be life-saving.

“There is no time at which it is inappropriate to uplift and embrace LGBTQ identities and people in every classroom,” says Chris Hartman, executive director of the Fairness Campaign.

The Family Foundation, an organization standing for Kentucky families and Biblical values, says a message promoting the LGBTQ agenda has no place in a classroom with kids that young. The organization says teachers should focus on discussing topics that relate to their class matter.

“Sometimes, teachers or a curriculum is, from our viewpoint, really trying to indoctrinate or bring an agenda into a classroom and really not focus on teaching the basics,” says David Walls, executive director of The Family Foundation.

Morgan says he’ll be sharing a full statement on the situation in the coming week.

Categories: Featured, Local News, News