Controversial poster causes friction at Rutherford County school - WKRN News 2

Controversial poster causes friction at Rutherford County school

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MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -

A teacher in Rutherford County is fighting for the freedom of speech for his students after a controversial poster was removed from the classroom.

"Safe Space" posters, designed by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, a student organization, were hung in Central Magnet School in Murfreesboro alongside posters from other student groups for the majority of the prior school year.

The GLSEN poster states, "This is a safe and inclusive space for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students and their allies. All students deserve a safe and welcoming school environment."

The school board has since had those posters removed from classrooms after a parent complained it was offensive.

History and Contemporary Issues teacher Allen Nichols told News 2 he previously signed off on hanging the poster in his classroom after being asked by a group of students from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

"Other clubs post information. Being a supporter of student free speech, and as a professional, I felt like I was obligated to do that," he explained.

Some students News 2 spoke with following dismissal Tuesday said they think they poster should be allowed in the classroom and have signed a petition to bring it back.

"We heard some stuff that it was taken down and most people disagree that it was taken down," student Harrison Collins said, adding, "When you come to school it should be a safe learning environment. If you don't feel safe, it's not a safe learning environment."

Nichols added he plans to ask the school board on Wednesday to once again allow the posters to be hung.

"At the end of the day, our job should be to create safe, comfortable learning environments for everybody," he said.

The ACLU of Tennessee and the national ACLU has sent a letter to the Rutherford County Board of Education urging that students be allowed to reinstate the "Safe Space" posters in classrooms, calling their removal "a violation of the free speech rights of students and teachers."

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