Who is John M Wallis? Teacher resigns over calls to remove Pride flag from classroom
Wallis said he was asked to sign a letter that stated he 'would not discuss human sexuality or my own personal sexuality in the classroom'
NEOSHO, MISSOURI: A teacher has resigned after parents complained about an LGBT Pride flag in his classroom and told him to refrain from discussing sexuality with students. Twenty two-year-old John M Wallis, a theatre teacher at Neosho Junior High School in southwest Missouri, announced that he was resigning following complaints by concerned parents about the Pride flag in his classroom. Last month, we reported how a teacher boasted about asking students to stand for the Pride flag instead of the US flag. In June, we reported how kids channel Nickelodeon was accused of 'grooming' children in a Pride Month video performance by Nina West.
"At the beginning of the school year, I had two signs above my whiteboards that read 'In this classroom everyone is welcome' and an LGBTQ+ pride flag on my bookshelf," Wallis wrote on Twitter. "This was an attempt to make my classroom more open and welcoming for all of my students and nothing was ever taught about the flag because it stood there as a reflection of my classroom as a safe space for my LGBTQIA+ students."
At the beginning of the school year, I had two signs above my whiteboards that read "In This Classroom EVERYONE is Welcome" and an LGBTQ+ pride flag on my bookshelf.— John M. Wallis (He/Him) (@MrJWallis) September 5, 2021
Wallis, who is openly homosexual, said parents complained about the flag and accused him of pushing his own agenda in the classroom. "I was then asked to sign a letter that stated I would not discuss human sexuality or my own personal sexuality in the classroom and could have no displays or coursework on those subjects," Wallis continued. "This action was the reason for my resignation."
The embattled teacher has reportedly also filed a complaint with the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. He revealed that the school sent him a letter following parents' complaints that if he is "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."
This of course prompted students to ask why, and I answered truthfully while expressing that, if students had a problem with who I was, there were other open classes. This led to three or more calls from parents accusing me of pushing my agenda in the classroom.— John M. Wallis (He/Him) (@MrJWallis) September 5, 2021
In a statement to the Springfield News-Leader, School District Superintendent Jim Cummins said that as "per all personnel matters, there is a limited amount of information that is allowed to be shared by the school district." Wallis was hired on August 13, 2021, and offered his resignation in less than a month on September 1, 2021, telling the district he had plans to "pursue a different career path," Cummins added.
"It appears that there is a different set of rules if you are an LGBTQ+ educator," Wallis wrote on Twitter. "Neosho has no mention of gender identity or sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policy, and that is disconcerting enough. Couple that with a policy banning anything that expresses a part of me in the classroom, and it makes for a hostile work environment."
Neosho has no mention of gender identity or sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policy, and that is disconcerting enough. Couple that with a policy banning anything that expresses part of me in the classroom, and it makes for a hostile work environment.— John M. Wallis (He/Him) (@MrJWallis) September 5, 2021
Speaking to Fox News, Wallis said that he has no ill feelings toward Neosho despite the ordeal. "I want people to know that I do not hate Neosho. I grew up here. I love the place. But this policy right now – because it doesn’t protect LGBTQIA+ people – does not allow us to truly help all of our educators and all of our students," Wallis told the outlet.
"I don’t want people to think that I have some vendetta against this district. I don’t. I want to bring to light that this discrimination still exists and that there are policies that need to change. I don’t at all hate Neosho. I love it. I love the place so much. And it kills me to be leaving," he added.