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Teacher resigns after using LGBTQ-themed flash cards in preschool classroom


By Amanda Lamb

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    WAKE COUNTY, North Carolina (WRAL) -- A Wake County Public School System preschool teacher has resigned after she was accused of using LGBTQ-themed flash cards depicting a pregnant person, according to the district.

The district did not release the name of the teacher, but said it had removed the materials from the school. A May 27 news release from North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said the teacher used the cards in a preschool class at Ballentine Elementary School in Fuquay-Varina.

“The district is concerned to learn of the inappropriate instructional resource found in a preschool classroom,” Wake County Public School System spokesperson Lisa Luten wrote in an email to WRAL News.

Luten also confirmed that extra security is at the school today after backlash against the use of the flash cards.

Moore said state Rep. Erin Paré, R-Wake, received an email from a concerned constituent about the flashcards. Paré then contacted Ballentine Elementary Principal Lutashia Dove, according to Moore.

“An initial review determined that flash cards were not tied to the district’s Pre-K curriculum, did not complement, enrich or extend the curriculum and were used without the principal's review, knowledge and/or approval,” Luten wrote.

Moore claims Dove would not have known about the flash cards if not for the information from Paré.

WRAL News found the cards, called Progress Pride Flag Rainbow Families, online. The description reads, "These gorgeous custom-designed illustrations celebrate LGBT2SQ+ Families of diverse races, ages, sexualities, genders, and abilities."

On Tuesday, WRAL News reached out to the cardmakers ByUS Box, but did not hear back.

Paré told WRAL News she thought Wake County Public School System handled the response well.

"The response by the principal at Ballentine Elementary School was professional, swift, responsible and appropriate," Paré wrote in an email. "She showed excellent leadership."

Paré did not say on whether she thought the teacher resigning was the correct course of action.

The teacher’s resignation comes as North Carolina Senate lawmakers continue to hold hearings on the "Parents Bill of Rights," a GOP-backed bill that some are calling the state's version of a Florida law that critics refer to as "Don't Say Gay" legislation.

North Carolina House Bill 755 would ban any mention of sexual orientation or gender identity from the curriculum in kindergarten through third grade.

Under the bill, schools would have to notify parents if a student asks to use a different name or different pronouns to describe themselves. They would also have to let parents know if a student is seeing an in-school counselor, or if there's any change in a student's mental, physical or emotional wellbeing.

WRAL news also asked Paré whether she believes North Carolina lawmakers should still consider HB 755 or whether this past week is an indication that school systems will act accordingly in the future.

"I do believe this incident caught the attention of all involved including parents of school-aged children all over the state," Paré wrote. "Although I believe the vast majority of teachers would not use unapproved, age-inappropriate tools in the classroom, this incident brings awareness to the fact that it can happen and parental involvement in a child’s education is of the utmost importance."

WRAL News spoke with Jackie Milazzo, who has a 3-year-old son in the the special education preschool class of the teacher who resigned. Milazzo said the children are ages 3-4 in the class. She said the district initially reached out to parents on May 27.

"Especially with the class this is used in, many of these kids do not yet have the verbal capabilities to tell us if something inappropriate was really happening in the classroom, and we are forced to rely on our trust with the school and the teacher," Milazzo said.

Milazzo said she started to search Google if there was any mention of what happened. She said she came across a news article with pictures of the flash cards.

"Immediately, I felt relief like, 'This is it? This is what we're making a big deal about?'" Milazzo said.

Milazzo said the cards were part of a collage in the school's art center. She reacted to the news that her son's teacher resigned.

"It's devastating," Milazzo said. "She is one of the most remarkable teachers I have ever met."

Milazzo said parents were crying and hugging each other upon hearing about the resignation.

"It's just such a loss for our community," Milazzo said.

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