A Georgia elementary school student’s artwork celebrating the LGBTQ+ community was taken from the student’s classroom by school administrators and likened to a Nazi flag, a group of parents alleges.
According to parents, school officials at Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary in Athens, Ga. promptly removed a student’s art piece, which featured a rainbow and the words “Gay is OK” written beneath an umbrella, following a complaint from another parent.
When a teacher questioned the decision, an administrator compared hanging the drawing to hanging the flag of Nazi Germany in the classroom, according to a group of parents who witnessed the interaction, NBC-affiliate WXIA-TV 11 reported this week.
Some parents of students at Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary say the incident is not an isolated one and that school officials have for years exemplified behavior that could be interpreted as sexist or xenophobic.
“There are ongoing complaints about this current administration has been discriminatory against women, being discriminatory against LGBTQ people, being discriminatory against English language learners or emerging bilinguals, emerging multilingual and Spanish speakers,” Jemelleh Coes, a parent, and professor at the University of Georgia, told WXIA-TV. “So we have seen a pattern of inequity at our school and we have been asking for support at this point for years.”
“Nothing has been done and that is part of the problem and that is why we are finally at a place like this. Enough is enough,” Coes said.
In a statement dated Jan. 25, Georgia’s Clarke County School District said it had looked into the administrator’s comments and was working to “address the issues with all parties involved.”
“It has been alleged that a piece of student artwork was compared to Nazi symbolism … To be clear, we condemn this comparison and discrimination in all its forms,” the school district wrote.
“We stand with our LGBTQIA+ community and are dedicated to proving our commitment to diversity and inclusion,” the district added. “To that end, we will continue having sensitive and appropriate conversations with our school communities.”
Athens Pride in a lengthy post on Facebook said the group was “appalled” by the Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary administrator’s alleged comments, and had been in contact with involved parties.
“We are reminded today that our school, city, and people have a lot of work to do to create true safe spaces for our children,” the group wrote. “Homophobia, Anti-semitism, and all forms of hate have should have no home here in Athens – especially in our public schools.”