Teachers should not be allowed to wear clothing in support of Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter (Counterpoint)

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By Rachel Braunschweiger, Staff Writer

Schools are intended to be a safe space for all students to receive an education and maximize their academic and social potential.  The environment within the building is meant to be peaceful and harmonious for the students, in order for students to be able to focus on their daily tasks.  Teachers help set these environments in each classroom for students.

Students spend up to seven hours per weekday connecting with these adults and getting to know them on a personal level.  Often during class, teachers will naturally sidetrack from academic discussions and casually chat about information that is not relevant to their respective course.  This could include a wide variety of subjects from family life, to extracurricular activities, to current events, but politics are generally avoided. 

A key aspect of a harmonious student-teacher relationship is trust.  A teacher’s job and responsibility is to make his or her students feel comfortable in the classroom in order to ensure that students can understand and learn as much information as possible.

With racial tensions reaching a high in America over the past six months, many disagreements about our legal system and justice reform efforts have risen.  The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbury, and Breonna Taylor,  led hundreds of thousands of citizens to the streets in the summer months to express their anger over police brutality and systemic racism.  During this time, the Black Lives Matter movement, which began in 2013, became more popular and prominent, reaching supporters not only in America, but also around the globe.  In response, the Blue Lives Matter movement came into existence. 

 According to the Blue Lives Matter organization website, the goal of this organization is to “change these wrongs to law enforcement and once again shed positive light on America’s heroes to help boost morale and gain society’s much needed support.”.

Support for these two groups splits along party lines, creating further tension and animosity, especially during this ongoing election.  Blue Lives Matter clothing worn by teachers might make Black Lives Matter supporters feel uncomfortable, and similarly Black Lives Matter apparel might make Blue Lives Matter supporters angry.  

Despite the landmark ruling of Tinker v. Des Moines, which proclaimed that students and teachers do not lose their First Amendment rights in schools, teachers should still do what is in the best interest of their students.  It would be beneficial to the overall classroom climate if teachers refrained from wearing any politically-charged clothing themselves.  Their views may act as a disruption to students who do not believe in the same ideals and could possibly create a hostile learning environment.

“Teachers wearing biased political clothing could distract students from being able to pay attention in class,” said junior Rebecca Gaidis. 

Politics and other controversial issues are usually not discussed with teachers’ opinions in class, so they should not be displayed on clothing.  It can disrupt the learning environment of a classroom and is not in the teacher or student body’s best interest.   In a time of so much division, further hostility and disunity should not be incited.

“It’s inappropriate for a teacher to express their political views in class because they are not places for division,” said junior Jamie Goldman.

Furthermore, the Schreiber student handbook states that “all district teachers are expected to maintain a climate of mutual respect and dignity for all students regardless of actuarial or perceived race, color… with an understanding of appropriate appearance, language, and behavior in a school setting, which will strengthen students’ self-image and promote confidence to learn.”

Clothing choice most certainly falls under “appearance”, which means teachers should be mindful of how their clothing choices affect a particular student.  A minor political slip-up for just a moment in words is understandable, but wearing Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter clothing for a complete day or while walking around the track, as teachers were seen doing, is intimidating and threatening to certain students.

“The teacher’s job is to make school a welcoming place for everyone.  If they wear political clothing, they may make kids feel uncomfortable or excluded if they do not share similar beliefs,” said junior Kayla Caplin.

Teachers serve as important figures for millions across the country, spreading so much joy and positivity.  These ideas do not and should not be brought into the classroom, as they would disrupt a safe and equal learning environment. Even though we, as a country and community, have been experiencing an intense division of Democrats and Republicans, White Supremacists and Black Activists, and the rich and the poor over the past four years.   Keeping contentious politics and racial tensions in mind, teachers should not wear either Blue Lives Matter or Black Lives Matter clothing because it is not in the best interests of all of their students.