Support our Teachers
Support our Teachers
Why this petition matters
This June, a lawsuit was filed by a small group of parents against Mrs. Williams, an elementary school teacher in Mt Lebanon Public Schools, for observing Transgender Day of Visibility in her classroom with a related text that affirms transgender students place in our society.
They contend that their rights were violated (e.g., that this activity and text either violated local, state, or national law, and/or their own rights because they were not given a choice to opt their children out of this activity).
While the courts will now have to rule on these claims, WE, as part of the Mt Lebanon community, wish to affirm our support of Mrs. Williams, our teachers, and public schools for the following reasons:
1) Our teachers, like our students, are beloved members of our community. Their diversity in background, philosophy, and practice is at the heart of a PUBLIC education.
Because the American public is diverse, children in public schools must have exposure to that diversity regularly as they learn to think with not only the needs of themselves and their family in mind, but the broader communities of which they are a part and bear a responsibility to in our democratic republic.
Even when DEI policy does not explicitly exist in public schools (like it does in Mt Lebanon), public schools are still expected to protect and promote public interests and rights to equality. Transgender students are shown they are not equal and not important when there is not recognition of their lives and existence in public spaces. This is a direct infringement on their life and liberty.
2) Mrs. Williams is an outstanding teacher who fosters a highly inclusive classroom that not only teaches students foundational skills and critical thinking to navigate an increasingly complex world, but also what people from all walks of life have contributed to the world. These practices directly align with the district's and state's values around 21st century skills, as well as equity, diversity, and inclusion.
3) Teachers are professionals. Their professional autonomy should be respected and supported, especially when it addresses the mission, values, and goals of the district, and aligns with state and national policy.
Parents do not, and should not, get to select individual texts or activities for a teacher or public school district. That decision can and should remain in the purview of professional educators. That said, parents can actively partner to help support more diverse, equitable, and inclusive forms of public education. This includes helping to consider and/or approve new kinds of curriculum and learning experiences that bring about expanded rights and/or opportunities for ALL students to better understand their world.
The attack on our teachers and public schools for supporting the right for ALL students to be seen and included MUST STOP.