It’s Not All Rainbows: LVMS Removes Pride Stickers


 Following the recent decision made by the Washington Township Board of Education, “safe space” stickers which were intended to show support for the LGBTQ+ community have been taken down from all areas of Long Valley Middle School. On February 7, a 3-hour board meeting was held to discuss the controversial topic, and the board listened to both perspectives. There, LGBTQ+ students spoke about the importance of the stickers as it helped them find who they were as a person. Students at LVMS saw the stickers as a show of support when they felt as though they were not fully accepted inside and outside of the school environment. However, some parents believe the stickers to show favoritism amongst children who attend the school, as they believe all should be shown inclusivity.

There was tension and emotion between parents and students during the board meeting. Students wanted their voices to be heard, such as former LVMS student Elise Henneberry. Henneberry explained that the stickers were necessary for efforts to support the LGBTQ+ community, as previous efforts were unsuccessful. Henneberry stated that previous efforts were put into place like “No Name-Calling Week.” Henneberry continued, “We finished the posters and hung them up throughout the walls of the middle school. However, the next day, most likely within the first period, the word ‘no’ on the posters was covered by the sticky notes and it would make it so the posters read ‘Name Calling Week.’”  This was not the only example of LGBTQ+ students being shown disrespect by other students. Numerous parents at the board meeting continued to share their negative experiences regarding their child attending the school, expressing that the school ultimately failed at helping the LGBTQ+ community feel supported. The decision to take the stickers down was just another example of LVMS continuing to overlook the issue. 

The middle school has hung LGBTQ+ pride safe space stickers throughout the school since 2019; however, over time it became controversial. Parents began to feel that the stickers promote “favoritism” within the school.  

According to an article in Out in New Jersey, “Superintendent Peter Turnamian said the stickers would be replaced with a more common symbol,’ the school’s panther mascot.” However many in the community feel this is not strong enough support for the LGBTQ+ community, as the school mascot is already displayed commonly around the school.  Because it is already a familiar symbol to students, it brings into question if it would truly make a difference. 

It is clear that the culture at Long Valley Middle School has to be addressed. Students who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community are not feeling supported, and they will continue to feel this way if the board does not act accordingly. If children are relying on a sticker to help them get through the school day, it should be taken into consideration what teachers and students could be doing differently. The Board of Education decision will remain, as the safe space stickers will no longer be in classrooms.