After becoming a heavily dedicated educator at Neosha High School, John M. Wallis was instructed by a few conservative parents that his pride flag was not scholar-worthy. John M. Wallis instructs classrooms full of students wanting to advance within the art of speech and drama lifestyle and believes that his flag was installed to help support and welcome students of all kinds. However, this phenomenon was not seen the same for other parents and the school board.
Parents complained drastically to the administrator that his flag was exposing their children to the LGBTQIA community and enforcing them to be gay. As drastic as it sounds, a few of Wallis’s critics explained that the flag was no more different than the Confederate flag. Wallis stated that the use of the pride flag in his classroom was nothing more compared to someone hanging the Confederate flag in their classroom. The idea behind the pride flag was only an attempt to make the classroom feel more open and welcoming towards all of the students and not just some in particular. Furthermore, there was no agenda to teach on the flag to his students because it was merely a reflection of the classroom, in an effort to become a safe haven for any and all LGBTQIA+ students. The 22-year-old teacher explained in a tweet on September 5th, the ideal he had attempted to bring forth in his classroom. Wallis not only wanted his students to feel welcomed but also to ensure themselves that they were being taught by a teacher who understood everyone was different and accepted that wholeheartedly. It was understood that Wallis could have been more clearer about his intentions with the flag, but not once believed that it was an abomination to install the flag in his classroom. Wallis further related his reasoning to the fact that there it is never a problem when heterosexual teachers display homely and affectionate photos of their family and spouses but having a pride flag was the ultimate no-go. He believes that his administrators’ belief in the bigotry over his beliefs was downright devastating. Once expressing his concern for how the board handled the situation, the speech and drama teacher would indeed not be returning to Neosho High School after receiving such complaints.
Wallis placed his resignation with the school board and made sure that his stance on the LGBTQ community was heard, along with his lost hope in the school’s decision. Wallis did admit that he hung the flag after being told he would not be able to speak upon sexuality in his class. Wallis had believed that the pride flags are being displayed at many schools and had not received as much controversy as he did following the placement of the flag. The 22-year-old junior high speech teacher had explained that it was his life’s dream to work at Neosho and to see it crumble down right before him due to a pride flag was beyond devastating. Wallis finished his stance on commenting that he has never felt so torn about anything else he has tried to accomplish as an educator and that despite what occurs after his resignation, he would still be standing high on the belief of ensuring LGBTQIA+ students would feel safe within his classrooms. Ever since Wallis has become a speaker in the LGBTQ community and has appeared on shows to speak more upon his decision of placing the pride flag and how he stands prominently behind the community.