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Music teacher resigns after writing 'You are free to be yourself' message on classroom board

Tyler Clay Morgan
Posted at 8:56 PM, Apr 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-05 21:09:58-04

Tyler Clay Morgan is now out of a teaching job. He resigned from his role as a music teacher at West Irvine Intermediate School in Kentucky on Monday after facing controversy over this colorful message of support to his students:

Morgan Message.jpg

Morgan confirmed that he wrote "You are free to be yourself ... You matter" on the board in his classroom along with multi-colored letters, symbolic of a rainbow.

He said he is not ready to speak on camera but did post this on Facebook:

Estill County Superintendent Jeff Saylor wrote the following statement on the matter:

April 4, 2022

Over the past few days there has been a lot of conversations and misinformation surrounding the incident at West Irvine Intermediate School. A lot of this conversation centered on the statement, “You are free to be yourself”. As superintendent, my issue has not been with this statement because we have to meet the needs of all of our students and families.

The issue at hand is the conversations that took place during class. I firmly believe that students and their parents expect teachers to teach content about their assigned curriculum in a subject area. Of course, there are times that conversations may vary from that day’s lesson plan, but these conversations went far beyond the music curriculum. It is my job to make sure that parents are not surprised by these types of situations. Finally, I believe that all teachers have a responsibility to be supportive of their students, but when students share difficult situations and circumstances with them, the student should be referred to a certified school counselor. Our counselors have been trained to deal with these delicate issues and provide support.

This matter has been addressed and closed. I will not be making any further comment out of respect for everyone involved.

~Jeff Saylor

Kentucky teacher Laura Hartke was asked to give an outside educator's perspective on the comment about discussing topics "far beyond the music curriculum" and she said, "I'm not privy to the conversations that happened, but conversations outside of curriculum happen every day," Hartke said. "Every day. There's no teacher that just reads from a book and just delivers you content. Kids have questions. They have conversations. We are educating whole children. So the thought that the conversation being outside of curriculum is alarming to him, is alarming to me."

Saylor was asked for an on-camera interview and he said he would not be making additional comments. Morgan said he would be ready to make a full statement soon.

Reported threats of violence have been made against him. Parents have also discussed on social media their displeasure with the message being written in the classroom. However, Morgan has also received a great deal of support.

This story was originally published by Kristen Edwards of WLEX in Lexington, Kentucky.