A Kentucky middle school music teacher resigned on Monday after a photo of his message of support to LGBTQ students led to him receiving violent threats.
Tyler Clay Morgan, a former music teacher at West Irvine Intermediate School in east Kentucky, wrote on his classroom whiteboard, “You are free to be yourself with me. You matter.” The word “yourself” was written in large rainbow letters. A transgender and rainbow Pride flags were drawn above it, according to a photo in a Facebook post.
Morgan reportedly received threats of violence over the message as other parents and community members alternately posted comments supporting and disapproving of his message, WLEX-TV reported.
Morgan hasn’t issued any public statements through media, but in a March 23 Facebook message, he wrote, “If y’all protected human rights like you protect sports, this world would be a better place over night. Just saying.”
On March 30, he wrote, “Today, I fight a real battle. Everything I’ve worked towards comes down to what happens today. If you have any encouraging words, please send them my way. Today is either a game changer for a lot of people or for me. I prefer the people. Thanks for all the love, always!!!”
Then, on April 4, he announced his resignation from teaching. “That’s all I’m saying on this matter Publicly as of right now,” he wrote on Facebook. “Please give me time and space to grieve and process.”
He then posted an image of his whiteboard message on the same day, later posting a message that expressed the belief that “more work needs to be done in Kentucky… to make sure all students feel safe, secure, and seen.”
“My hope is that every educator that sees this is empowered, passionate, and actively working to make a change in the world of education as I am,” he added.
In a message to parents and staff, Estill County Superintendent Jeff Saylor wrote that there had been “a lot of conversations and misinformation surrounding the incident.”
“My issue has not been with this statement,” Saylor’s message continued. “The issue at hand is the conversations that took place during class…. 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.”
Saylor wrote that when students share difficult situations and circumstances with them, the student should be referred to a certified school counselor. He concluded by saying that he considered the matter “addressed and closed.”
However, Fayette County teacher Laura Hartke said, “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.”
On Thursday, the state’s Democratic Governor Andy Beshear vetoed a Republican-led transgender sports ban calling it “most likely” unconstitutional.
In his veto letter, Beshear wrote that trans youth “deserve public officials’ efforts to demonstrate that they are valued members of our communities through compassion, kindness and empathy, even if not understanding.”
On Wednesday, Morgan wrote, “For every negative comment there are at least ten positive ones.”
On Thursday, he wrote, “I’m being put through the ringer right now, but it’s not just me. There’s people everywhere in life that I know are suffering right now. Not only is it our jobs, as educators, to support our students, but it’s our jobs as people to support our friends and family.”
“If you’re struggling with ANYTHING, I am here for you. I’m a shoulder to cry on. And I will always be there to listen,” he added. “Let’s collectively change not only the entire world together but change PEOPLE’S WORLDS together.”