Ninth grade English teacher Taylor Lifka from Roma ISD was put on paid administrative leave last Sunday after the district received concerns from community members and parents. The concerns? The background of her virtual classroom included such things as posters that read “Black Lives Matter” and “Diverse, Inclusive, Accepting, Welcoming, Safe Space For Everyone” in rainbow colors.
A petition demanding that the administrative leave be cancelled and her ability to teach restored garnered more than 10,000 signatures. Tuesday evening, the school district released a statement saying that Lifka had been reinstated and would be allowed to keep the classroom background as long as it does not become disruptive.
“The most influential teachers in my life have one thing in common: they prioritized creating a supportive and affirming environment for me and my peers. Some of those teachers engaged students around activities which celebrated cultural differences. Other teachers, pronounced my name the way my parents did. And some displayed posters or stickers that expressed their commitment to diversity and equality. These teachers made me feel like I mattered. That is exactly what Taylor Lifka has done. She has extended a welcoming classroom to a virtual platform. She should be applauded for her efforts. After initially placing the teacher on administrative leave, we are pleased the school district did the right thing and reinstated the teacher for promoting diversity and teaching her students about the richness of identities in their communities. We as a state must uplift all teachers who embrace diversity and inclusion because every single child should be treated with dignity and respect.”Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas