Black Lives Matter attire worn by teachers seen as welcoming

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Photo submitted by Jason Caballero

Social studies teacher Jason Caballero wears a Black Lives Matter pin on his lanyard. It is a subtle way of showing that he and his classroom are welcome to everyone. A pin is one of many forms of teachers showing their support for Black Lives Matter.

Teachers should be allowed to wear Black Lives Matter attire. With the recent world and political events, everybody has been feeling more politically opinionated, which has sparked some teachers to wear or show their support for the social statements. They should be allowed to wear or show their support for the phrase because it is not considered political, but rather considered welcoming and inviting. 

It is the policy of I.S.D. 834 that the Board of Education recognizes and encourages the rights of its employees, as citizens, to engage in political activity, with the exception that no employee of I.S.D. 834 shall solicit support of any political candidate, partisan or non-partisan, or support of any issue on any referendum matter, during regular work hours on I.S.D. 834 property.

The guideline that the district follows agrees about the topic not being political. According to the district, the slogans are seen as enhancing the welcoming environment. No political affiliation or discrimination against certain people is shown by the teacher, which makes the attire allowed.

“In order for SAHS to be the best environment for learning possible, it needs to be welcoming and tolerant of all students and staff, and we have to ensure that divisiveness does not show up in our school,” Assistant Principal Matt Kraft said. 

With the recent and current political events, it is important for school to be a place where students feel safe and welcome, and the phrases show support for all people. Students can feel unwelcome and unheard when showing up to school everyday. Therefore, by allowing the welcoming attire, it can help a student feel welcome and heard in the classroom environment. 

“This is a human rights issue. In education, just as in our local, state, and national communities broadly, systemic racism has been a barrier to too many for too long. I am simply trying to show that I recognize I have been a privileged person as a white male and that I support our community members struggling to be seen, heard, and treated equally,” social studies teacher Anthony Klehr said. 

It is important for students to understand that they are learning for life, not for school. Teachers wearing BLM attire shows students that teachers are opinionated and educated citizens, which helps students better understand the role of being a citizen in our society. 

This is a human rights issue. In education, just as in our local, state, and national communities broadly, systemic racism has been a barrier to too many for too long”

— Anthony Klehr

A decision must be made that some people do not agree with. “There is no right or wrong answer, and not everyone will get their way in life. It is people’s rights to have freedom of speech and expression, so wearing a shirt showing what they support, in my mind, complies with that,” senior Young Republicans Club Leader Sam Kane said. 

The policymakers have determined that by allowing the attire, it welcomes a group of people in addition to welcoming freedom of speech for the teachers.

While the attire may be seen to some as welcoming, others argue that by involving messages that are affiliated with political sides, it is a political topic. Political statements by teachers are not allowed in a public school setting, so some disagree with allowing the attire to be worn by teachers. By allowing the attire, it can also create a discouraging environment for students who disagree with the statements, which negatively impacts the education experience for those students. Perhaps the school could take more steps to ensure that all students feel welcome, The administration, along with student participation, can take steps to remove racism and division as well as enhance understanding and diversity. By doing this, there will not be such a great need for debatably political attire to be worn at school.

The attire worn by teachers is necessary to address that division that exists among students. It could be resolved by the administration, along with students, working hard to create a more diverse school staff, as well as teach about diversity and how it is beneficial to everybody.