Teacher ‘recommended for termination’ for singing pro-LGBTQ+ Dolly Parton song in classroom

Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton on stage, singing Rainbowland together.

Hundreds of people have donated to a Wisconsin teacher after learning she is allegedly to be fired for singing the song “Rainbowland” to a group of first-grade pupils.

Waukesha’s school district superintendent Jim Sebert is reportedly recommending the termination of first-grade teacher Melissa Tempel after a complaint was lodged against her for singing the to pro-LGBTQ+ song by Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton.

Tempel, who has been working in education for 23 years, was put on administrative leave on 3 April following the complaint and told that if she discussed the matter, she would be fired.

Following her disciplinary review by the board, parents’ group the Alliance for Education in Waukesha (AEW) helped start a fundraiser to cover living costs for Tempel and her family as she awaited the verdict.

It has gained over $15,000 at the time of reporting.

“During the last month-and-a-half, I have received an outpouring of living, supportive emails, phone calls, text messages and handwritten letters from parents, colleagues, residents of Waukesha, and beyond,” Tempel said in a statement on the fundraiser page.

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“I have not been able to answer any of them, nor have I been able to check in on my students and their families.”

Tempel said that she has received messages from parents of her students, letting her know that her absence was having a “traumatic impact” in the classroom.

One parent reportedly messaged her saying that her daughter’s “self-image and self-esteem” had been impacted without Tempel present.

The email to Tempel continued: “She is very stressed about the behaviour and actions of other children and is often in tears before bed because she is so worried about school.”

In a press release on Wednesday (17 May), the AEW reported that Sebert had recommended Tempel’s termination, and said it saw the recommendation as an “attempt of the district to avoid accountability for its own poor decisions and lack of transparency”.

It added: “Melissa Tempel is an outstanding educator who spoke to parents and members of the community about the district’s ongoing misuse of police as a shield for its pattern of harmful decisions negatively impacting the school community.”

Tempel explained that she intends to file a First Amendment violation claim against the Waukesha District for what she described as being “intimidated into silence”, which the fundraiser will go towards.

She described the lyrics of “Rainbowland” as “beautiful” and commended the song for promoting inclusivity, adding that it was the kind of “inspiration and kindness” that she believed the world needs right now.

“I remain committed to the work I have done throughout my life and career.”

PinkNews has contacted the School District of Waukesha for comment.