A rainbow "flag" at a Minnesota elementary school that prompted complaints from some parents later emerged to just be your typical classroom rainbow decoration.
Controversy has briefly stirred in Willmar recently, where a group of elementary school parents raised concerns with the Willmar Schools board over a rainbow seen in one of the classrooms, taking it to be the Pride Flag, the international symbol for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
Superintendent Dr. Jeff Holm spoke to Willmar Radio about the complaint he received from a father, explaining that what he actually saw was just your typical elementary class rainbow color decoration.
"Elementary schools going back to the beginning of time have been decorated in the colors of the rainbow and I think specifically what concerned him was that a window covering over a narrow window in a classroom door that had the colors of the rainbow, they weren't quite in the same configuration of a rainbow flag, and I don't believe there was any intent or any hidden meaning there," Holm said.
"It was just bright colors that primary grades typically have."
The West-Central Tribune reported last month that a group of Somali-American parents raised concerns about the rainbow flag at a board meeting.
Holm said that there were concerns raised that a rainbow flag, which is a sign of support and solidarity with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities, signified that elementary students were being taught sex education.
But an investigation determined that the use of the colors was simply about decoration and Mr. Roy G. Biv, and didn't signify any discussion of sexuality or politics.
"The bigger concern from the gentleman and the group he brought with him was we might be teaching kids things that parents would rather not have us touch on, including things about sexuality which we aren't addressing in our instruction in elementary schools," Holm told Willmar Radio.
Sex education is required in Minnesota schools, but the content varies district by district.
The Sex Education Collaborative notes that in Minnesota, sex education is not required to be comprehensive, it must contain an element that helps students to abstain from sex until marriage, and it is not required to include teaching regarding sexual orientation or gender identity. Any sex education curriculum must also be available for parental review, with parents having the option to opt their children out from instruction.
There have been unsuccessful efforts in recent years by state legislators to introduce a statewide framework for sexual health curriculum, with activists arguing that the current system creates disparities in the quality of sex education received.