Melissa Tempel’s first-grade class at Heyer Elementary School in Waukesha County, Wisconsin, spent weeks preparing for their upcoming spring concert.
Tempel and her co-teacher, bilingual instructors at the school, wanted the concert to have a theme of unity and world peace. Among the songs they selected: “It’s a Small World”, sung in Spanish, and “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles.
The students were also set to perform “Rainbowland,” a 2017 duet by Miley Cyrus and her godmother, Dolly Parton, with lyrics advocating for inclusion.
Tempel began rehearsing with her students as soon as another school staff member suggested the song, and Tempel and her co-teacher approved it. Her first graders, she said, need all the time they can to memorize the songs before the concert, just before Mother’s Day.
“My students loved it right away,” Tempel told CNN of her classroom reaction to “Rainbowland.”
But one day after the students learned the song, Tempel said the school administration asked him to remove “Rainbowland” from the concert. In a statement, the district said she asked for the song to be removed because its lyrics “could be considered controversial” under a school board policy on controversial topics in the classroom.
“Wouldn’t it be nice to live in paradise, where we’re free to be exactly who we are?” Cyrus and Parton sing. “To live in Rainbowland, where you and I go hand in hand. Oh, I’d be lying if I said this is okay, all the pain and hate that’s here.”