A gay teacher resigned after the school he worked at told him to sign a letter promising to hide his sexuality from students.
John Wallis was hired by Neosho Junior High School in Neosho, Missouri, to teach speech and theatre in his first graduate role after finishing university.
The 22-year-old had put up a sign saying “in this classroom everyone is welcome” and had a Pride flag on his bookshelf, which quickly received complaints from parents.
“A parent called last week to complain that I was going to teach their child to be gay,” Wallis wrote in a Twitter thread about his ordeal. “I was then instructed to take my flag and signs down.”
“In fact, the use of the Pride flag in my classroom was compared to hanging the Confederate flag in my classroom.”
When asked by a student why the flag was up, the teacher shared that he is gay.
“This led to three or more calls from parents accusing me of pushing my agenda in the classroom,” he explained.
At this point, Wallis received a letter from Superintendent Jim Cummins with a list of things he would no longer be allowed to do.
According to a copy of the letter that was obtained by the Springfield News-Leader, it said: “Our classrooms cannot become a personal platform for pushing one’s personal agenda. Your position in the Neosho School District is to teach speech and drama classes. You were hired because we believe you were the best candidate to do such.
“However, if you are unable to present the curriculum in a manner that keeps your personal agenda on sexuality out of your narrative and the classroom discussions, we will ultimately terminate your employment.”
Wallis also had to agree to display “no references to sexuality or gender” in the classroom, avoid “discussions regarding human sexuality and/or sexual preference” and ensure that no assignments involve the aforementioned topics.
After refusing to sign the letter, Wallis handed in his resignation on 1 September – just weeks after the start of the school year.
The school confirmed that the letter was sent but stated it was meant to “document” a conversation with the teacher on 31 August.
The school district’s anti-discrimination policy has no mention of sexual orientation and gender identity and Missouri state does not explicitly ban LGBTQ+ discrimination.
Now that everything is officially over, I can share some news;
I am no longer a teacher with Neosho…
— John M. Wallis (He/Him) (@MrJWallis) September 5, 2021