Update: ‘Rainbowland’ teacher takes next steps after she was fired for a tweet
For longtime public school teacher activist and WEAC member Melissa Tempel, 2023 was the first year she didn’t have a “first day of school” since she was four years old.
In spring 2023, the National Board Certified Teacher was abruptly removed from her position as first grade dual language teacher after a tweet she posted brought national attention to harmful school board policies that impacted students and educators in her district. In July 2023 the school board terminated her from her job.
She’s been in the national spotlight ever since and public school educators have thrown our arms around her in support.
Despite her situation, Tempel – an author, Welcoming Schools nationally certified facilitator and much-awarded teacher – continues to spread the word about the importance of speaking up and advocating for all students, no exceptions. She was featured at the NEA Representative Assembly, participated in a Rethinking Schools forum called “Censored Teachers Speak Out: Stories from the Fight to Teach Truth” and launched the Rainbowland Action initiative dedicated to supporting educators and youth and making sure public schools are inclusive and supportive for all students and families. She teaches the LGBTQ+ Inclusive Spaces course for WEA Academy and has launched a YouTube channel to stay connected to former students and families. She plans to do read-alouds at bookstores and other children’s venues.
Tempel has filed a federal lawsuit has been filed against the School District of Waukesha and Superintendent James Sebert, and without her beloved teaching career, her family is struggling to pay bills. Her supporters have set up a Go Fund Me page to help the family and support LGBTQ+ awareness.