An openly gay middle school teacher in Missouri resigned after parents accused him of teaching his students to be gay.
To indicate his classroom was a safe space for all students—regardless of gender identity, nationality, or sexual preference—Neosho Junior High School teacher John Wallis had put up a welcoming sign.
"In this classroom everyone is welcome."
In addition to the sign, Wallis displayed an LGBTQ+ pride flag on the bookshelf. The school administration advised against Wallis doing either, but he did both anyway.
Homophobic parents who found out complained about Wallis to the superintendent of the district.
The teacher was handed a letter to sign stating he would remove both, the LGBTQ+ flag and the welcome sign, or face termination.
"They asked me to sign a letter saying I would not discuss my sexual orientation," he told the Kansas City Star, adding, "In other words, that I would hide who I am."
So instead of removing the requested items, he handed in a letter of resignation the following morning.
He took to Twitter and detailed the sequence of events that led to him stepping down instead of remaining and being forced to hide his identity.
The Neosho School District issued the following statement regarding Wallis' departure.
"As per all personnel matters, there is a limited amount of information that is allowed to be shared by the school district."
"In regards to inquiries regarding Mr. John Wallis, I can share that Mr. Wallis was hired on 8/13/21, and he submitted his resignation on September 1, 2021."
"Should you wish to view any of our personnel policies, they can be found at https://simbli.eboardsolutions.com/Policy/PolicyListing.aspx?S=332 Sincerely, Dr. Jim R. Cummins Superintendent."
Wallis encouraged "Neosho and all other districts to seriously think about the phrase 'All means all' as it pertains to supporting students in public education."
He concluded his Kansas City Star guest commentary with:
"I can only hope that my story encourages others to share their experiences and that it leads to systemic changes everywhere."