Two weeks after the Alaska Watchman reported that a publicly funded Mat-Su homeschool program was posting LGBTQ-themed signs around campus, the school has quietly removed the controversial symbols.
Earlier this month, the Watchman revealed the fact that Mat-Su Central School had posted at least two rainbow-emblazoned signs announcing that the school was a “Diverse, Inclusive, Accepting, Welcoming, Safe Space for Everyone.” One sign was tacked to Mat-Su Central’s large bulletin board, near the main entrance. The other was taped to the front doors of the school library.
As of at least Oct. 16, both signs had been taken down. The bulletin board post was replaced with a solid green sign with black lettering stating, “You Belong.”
Signs with this exact wording have sparked heated controversy in several schools, as they are used to signal to students and educators that campuses are on board with affirming alternative sexualities and gender expressions.
The Mat-Su School District, however, has a policy that specifically prohibits school employees from using school time or resources to promote “activist” causes.
Mat-Su Central Principal Stacey McIntosh initially said the signs came from a “member of the Mat-Su Central school community,” but she did not indicate if the person was an employee of the school. She added that the school’s protocols allow staff and students to display various types of information.
At the time, McIntosh claimed it would violate constitutional free-speech rights to remove the signage.
This is not the first time a Mat-Su school has posted LGBTQ messages on school grounds. Last fall, a school psychologist, Jacob Balaskovits, urged educators at several elementary schools to encourage students in their beliefs that they are gay, bi-sexual or transgender by posting rainbow-symbol stickers around campus. These symbols, he said, let students know that educators will “affirm their chosen or shared names, pronouns, or other identities.” He also told teachers to refer students to “someone in the school who they can talk to more.”