Long Valley Middle School Removes LGBTQ Rainbow Signs After Backlash
Once a symbol for equality and safety, the rainbow signs that hung around Long Valley Middle School will come down, says Peter Turnammian, Washington Township School district Superintendent.
After parent complaints and consultation with the school district’s lawyers, the superintendent of the Washington Township School District decided to remove the rainbow-colored “Safe Zone” signs hanging in Long Valley Middle School ever since 2019.
The district’s superintendent tried to provide reasoning as to why the rainbow signs would come down.
“Two things that were of concern was the voluntary nature of how they were implemented and the idea that they did potentially expose us to appropriate criticism of point of view favoritism.” says Peter Turnammian, Washington Township School district Superintendent.
Many have complained across social media, in perhaps juvenile ways, but say their complaints have been met with no response (until some of the most recent PTA meetings).
The rainbow signs will be replaced by the school’s mascot, a panther. The district’s superintendent presented plans for the “Profile of a Panther” initiative during a staff development day on Monday and said students would assist in developing the new signs with feedback from the school community.
There are passionate believers on both sides of this debate.
A student of Long Valley Middle School named Rose, who identifies as lesbian and gender-queer, received applause for addressing the board at a December meeting, saying “I can say the LGBTQ+ community is constantly bullied and belittled in our school system. The safe zone rainbow stickers let kids like me know that they are not alone despite their differences. The signs are not hurting anybody, and they are not imprinting on your children. They only promote love and accepting yourself for the way you are.”
It is important to note that the students of Long Valley Middle School led the effort to create and hang the signs around their school, and it was only when the parents realized the signs were up that an issue rose.
While many were outraged for a variety of reasons, either with the removal of the signs or their presence, the principal of Long Valley Middle School Mark Ippolito apparently thought there was “not anything to talk about” when NJ.com reached out for comment.
This move comes as LGBTQ+ students continue to experience the highest rates of bullying and harassment in schools across the nation. Christian Fuscarino, executive director of Garden State Equality, NJs leading gay-rights group, said it is the responsibility of administrators to create environments where educators can create safe and affirming spaces for all students, but especially for those experiencing high rates of abuse from peers.
Fuscarino continues by saying that removing the signs “sends a message to LGBTQ youth that they are not fully welcome in the school environment.”
What do you think about Long Valley Middle School's decision to remove the Safe Zone signs? Let us know in the comments!
Morristown Minute has been approved for the 2022 Local News Fund!*
Improve mental health accessibility in our town! Donate to Morristown, NJs local mental health accessibility fund today!
*The 2022 Local News Fund is a program administered by the Local Media Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization affiliated with the Local Media Association. The program’s purpose is to allow independent and family-owned news organizations to solicit tax-deductible donations from their communities for journalism projects focusing on critical local issues. Contributions to this program are tax-deductible to the full extent of U.S. law; please consult a tax advisor for details.