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Montana School Sparks Controversy for Pulling Two Students From a Lesbian Teacher’s Class

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The decision by a Montana school board to transfer two students from a lesbian elementary school teacher’s class, reportedly at the request of their parents, who wanted them to have a straight teacher, has generated controversy in the community.

According to The Missoulian, the controversy began when a teacher at Frenchtown Intermediate School in Frenchtown, Montana, mentioned that she had a wife during a “getting to know you” activity early in the school year.

The parents of two students reportedly requested the school board to transfer their children to a class with a heterosexual teacher. Following the parents’ request, the Frenchtown School District board held two closed-door meetings in September 2023, as a Montana privacy law allowed, to deliberate on the matter.

Montana does not have a statewide “Don’t Say Gay” law like some other states, but state law does mandate schools to give parents advance notice of any LGBTQ+-related curricula, allowing them to opt their children out.

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Superintendent Les Meyer recommended against reassigning the students, but during a September 25 meeting, a motion not to transfer them failed by a 3–2 vote, with two board trustees absent. 

Trustee Amanda Hansen argued that the board should “advocate for the children” and characterized the teacher as a “grown woman” making “adult choices,” according to the Missoulian.

Racquel Rausch, whose daughter is in the teacher’s class, described the teacher as “warm and caring.” She stated, “We felt like she was committed to our child’s education. We had no idea of her sexual orientation, and it wouldn’t matter to us.”

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“I want my daughter to be able to be in a world where she can correct her own biases, form her own opinions, and support others,” she added. “The board’s decision essentially robbed her of that.”

Rausch is one of several parents who blasted the board during public comment at meetings in October and November, alongside Frenchtown alums and current and former teachers. One teacher called the board’s decision “hasty and hostile.”

Another district employee said she no longer felt supported and feared for her job. Board chair Shiloh Lucier faced harsh criticism, with current and former teachers testifying that she has created an environment stifling educators.

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“Teachers are concerned that the rights of their colleagues in a public forum and their private lives are being attacked,” Frenchtown Education Association President Jim Stanicar read from a prepared statement at the November 21 meeting.

“Many are concerned that an administrative team that is respected and viewed as an ally is being harassed and attacked for simply doing the job they were hired to do. Some even worry about retribution for perceived personal slights.”

In his statement, Stanicar said Lucier was primarily responsible for a “crisis of morale” among Frenchtown educators and issued a unanimous no-confidence vote against the chair.

What do you think of the school board’s decision? Let us know in the comments.

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