An alternate teacher dismissed for raising concerns about pictures in a children’s book

Lindsey Barr was fired from her alternative teaching job after she expressed concern about the content of a book in the school library.

Bar is a mother of three children. All of her children attend a public school in Bryan County, Georgia, about 30 miles southwest of Savannah, where she also works as a substitute teacher.

In August, Barr learned that Macalister Elementary School, where her children attend first and third grades and where she sometimes works, plans to read Everyone’s Welcome during “read-aloud” time in the school library.

“I actually thought the subject matter of the book was great, and kind, … everyone included,” Barr, 37, told The Daily Signal during a phone interview Thursday. “But the pictures and illustrations go against what we believe in marriage and families.” .

The book’s color photos include images of same-sex couples taking their children to school and two lesbian mothers, one of whom is pregnant.

Illustration by Susan Kaufman, from Alexandra Penfold’s Everybody Welcome.

“I want to be able to implant [in my own children] What I believe is biblically true of marriage and family. And the [the book] He was against these beliefs,” said Barr, who previously worked as a full-time teacher for a decade at Bryan County Public Schools.

On August 16, Barr spoke with her 6-year-old son’s teacher and asked him not to be part of the story time where the book would be read. The teacher said that this is not a problem.

Later that day, Barr emailed Heather Tucker, the principal of McAllister Elementary School, asking her to speak with her. The two made a phone call the next day, and Barr expressed concern about the images in the book.

Barr says she made it clear to the principal that she and her husband would like to be the ones to talk to their children about issues like same-sex marriage, rather than school. The mother says she was clear that she did not request that the book be removed from the school, only that her children are not exposed to the content.

Barr recalls that the director agreed that her sons did not need to be involved in story time.

The call ended and Barr said she felt “all right.”

Shortly after the conversation, Barr said, she tried to log into the online portal the school uses for substitute teachers to get more work. You couldn’t do that. She emailed the principal, asking if she had been removed from her job as a substitute teacher, but received no response.

“The next thing I heard from the school was from the Human Resources Director asking me to come for a face-to-face meeting regarding my role as a substitute teacher,” Barr told The Daily Signal.

On August 23, Barr met Principal Tucker and Debbie McNeill, director of human resources for the school district.

“I’m going to start by making some comments that I’m going to say are hard, and they’re going to be hard to hear, and hard for me to say,” Tucker told Barr at the start of the meeting. , according to a copy.

The principal went on to explain to Barr why she was not allowed to be a substitute teacher in the school district:

So last week I accused McAllister [Elementary] To advance a propaganda campaign…with liberal extremist worldviews. This is not accurate. This is not something we do. However, every teacher who enters this building, regardless of personal views, has to leave their prejudices at the door. Just have to do. We must be prepared to support every child who comes into this building.

Tucker said she was concerned about Barr’s bias “against same-sex couples,” according to the transcript.

The principal said, “It is very realistic that we could have a student who identifies as gay, or has parents who identify as gay, and I have concerns about how you can support that student since those biases still get into the workplace as well.”

Barr responded that she conveyed her concerns to the principal as a mother, not as a school district employee.

“I didn’t share your prejudice. This is not personal bias. I said, ‘As a Christian mother of two, and young children, I don’t think we should push gay marriage on my kids,'” Barr told Tucker.

The two told Barr that she would no longer be allowed to be a substitute teacher in the Bryan County School District.

Philip Seichler, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal aid organization, sent a letter on September 13 to Trey Robertson, the assistant superintendent of teaching and learning at the Bryan County Board of Education.

In the letter, Sechler demanded that the school system “return Mrs. Barr immediately so that she can resume work as a substitute teacher at Macalister.” [Elementary]and to refrain from any future retaliation against Mrs. Barr for her protected speech.”

Siechler requested a response from Robertson or the school district by 5 p.m. on September 16, stating that if Barr is not returned, she will “have to pursue other legal options to defend her rights.”

Sechler says neither Robertson nor any other Bryan County school district official has responded.

Freedom Defense Coalition attorneys filed a lawsuit September 30 against McAllister Elementary School and Bryan County Schools in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, Savannah Division.

The Daily Signal requested comment from Robertson, Tucker and School Principal Paul Proxer, but did not receive a response.

“Parents should not be bullied and bullied by public schools who don’t want their opinions heard,” Sichler told The Daily Signal. “Lindsey [Barr] She expressed her concerns to protect her children and they fired her from work… which is wrong.”

Barr said she is taking a stand to protect her constitutional right to freedom of expression.

She said public schools “cannot retaliate against parents for expressing genuine concern about their children’s education.”

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