Protestors rally to support teachers and staff at Glen Cove Elementary School

Published: May. 26, 2023 at 8:31 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - WDBJ7 told you Thursday about comments four residents made about LGBTQ symbols and teachers at a Roanoke County school board meeting. Friday, people held a peaceful demonstration outside Glen Cove Elementary School.

Dozens of people showed up with signs to support teachers and staff at Glen Cove Elementary School.

“I pray every day for my children to be protected in their school and I always have comfort knowing they are, because she comes homes and tells me how great her teachers are,” said Glen Cove Elementary School Parent Angelia Foster.

One teacher who resigned spoke to WDBJ7 anonymously, fearing retribution from the school, saying four teachers were targeted during the year. “Other staff weren’t asked to remove objects or take off certain clothing items.”

Roanoke County officials said they couldn’t confirm if this was true because it was a “personnel issue.”

“To know that they were bullied into leaving the school bothers me because there’s nothing I want more than my children to be kind, loving people that are good-hearted,” added Foster.

WDBJ7 has confirmed nine teachers did resign - although school officials refused to say why.

Two women were present at the event, counter-protesting. Sue Wertz said she is trying to protect the children.

“I feel that they’re at a very tender age and they in their little minds are so vulnerable to things that they’re just not ready for,” explained Sue Wertz.

Wertz said she didn’t agree with all the comments made during the May 18 school board meeting. She simply was there to advocate for the kids.

“Wait ‘til they get older. Wait ‘til they’re mature enough to accept some of these things that may seem odd to them,” said Wertz.

Foster says rainbows aren’t a political symbol and are simply colors.

“Rainbows are something good,” added Foster. “They’re not meant to incite fear and that to take rainbows out of an elementary school is ridiculous. Kids love colors.”

Former Roanoke County student and City Councilman Luke Priddy said as an openly gay man, he knows the importance of having support.

“The student in the classroom, they need to see positive representations of them,” said Priddy. “Seeing the number of people out here, it will save one of their lives. I know that a school teacher growing up saved my life by being positive and affirming for me.”

Roanoke County Superintendent Dr. Ken Nicely said, “While we cannot comment on the specifics of a personnel matter, we do want to affirm that Roanoke County Public Schools’ focus is on our students and their learning and wellbeing. Our baseline belief is that our schools must be safe and caring places for all students, where they can learn free of disruption.”

Parents at the demonstration spoke out against the school board, saying the board didn’t support teachers.

WDBJ7 has emailed every board member about the situation and has not received a response.

Some parents at the demonstration plan to show up to the next school board meeting in June.