Long Valley removes LGBTQ ‘Safe Zone’ stickers from middle school

School officials in one Morris County town are telling teachers to take down the rainbow stickers meant to comfort students who are part of the LBGTQ+ community.
Within Long Valley Middle School were “safe zone” stickers that depicted rainbows. They have become common in other schools.
The stickers have been up in the middle school since 2019 when students decided they wanted them in classrooms or offices. But they will now have to be taken down – a decision that has proven to be controversial to some.
"To be walking through your school and you see that sticker, it's a small token of a reminder that it's OK to be exactly who you are,” says Justine Evyn Saliski, of Garden State Equality.
Saliski says she is disappointed to hear the stickers are coming down after some parents complained.
Long Valley Superintendent Peter Turnamian said at a recent Board of Education meeting, "Two things that were of concern was the voluntary nature of how they were implemented and the idea that they did potentially expose us to appropriate criticism of point of view favoritism."
Saliski says favoritism is the opposite intention.
"By putting a sticker up, I don't think that's showing favoritism by any means. I think it's just showing that a student who happens to be an LGBTQ student is exactly the same as a student who isn't,” she says.
Saliski says it's supposed to offer inclusion to a group of children that are often targeted. The Human Rights Campaign states that students within the LGBTQ+ community are two times more likely to be bullied.
The New Jersey Education Association weighed in, saying that every child should feel safe and welcome, adding, "We believe that it helps everyone when that value is expressed clearly and unambiguously. Students seem to understand that instinctively. Some adults apparently still need to catch up. We will continue to advocate for equity, inclusion, and mutual understanding in all of our public schools."
In place of the rainbow stickers, the school will now hang images of the school’s panther mascot, with a message to encourage kindness.