Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton's 'Rainbowland' Banned from Wisconsin Elementary School Concert

"When will it end?" wrote first-grade teacher Melissa Tempel on Twitter after the Waukesha, Wisconsin school district banned rainbow-themed songs from an upcoming concert

Miley Cyrus, Dolly Parton
Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty

A Wisconsin first-grade teacher is speaking out after multiple rainbow-themed songs were vetoed from her students' spring concert.

Melissa Tempel, a dual language teacher at Heyer Elementary, called out the School District of Waukesha County on Tuesday over the decision to ban the song "Rainbowland" by Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton, as well as the Muppet Movie classic "Rainbow Connection."

"My first graders were so excited to sing 'Rainbowland' for our spring concert, but it has been vetoed by our administration. When will it end?" wrote Tempel on Twitter.

Waukesha Supt. James Sebert tells PEOPLE that the school's principal and the central office administrator "determined that the song could be deemed controversial" based on their Controversial Issues in the Classroom policy.

The policy defines controversial isses as any topic "on which opposing points of view have been promulgated by responsible opinion; which may be the subject of intense public argument, disagreement or disapproval; which may have political, social or personal impacts on students and/or the community; and which is likely to arouse both support and opposition in the community."

Although Tempel said she was told that the song was banned because Cyrus, 30, "is controversial," she "thought for sure" the decision had to do with Parton's popularity with drag queens and the LGBTQ community.

"Oh well, I can't stop my students if they still sing 'Rainbowland.' It's a fun, catchy song!" she wrote.

Tempel also shared lyrics from the 2017 collab featured on Cyrus' sixth studio album Younger Now, which include: "Living in a Rainbowland / The skies are blue and things are grand / Wouldn't it be nice to live in paradise / Where we're free to be exactly who we are."

"Let's all dig down deep inside / Brush the judgment and fear aside," the song continues. "Make wrong things right / And end the fight / 'Cause I promise ain't nobody gonna win (come on)."

On Thursday, Tempel gave an update that "Rainbow Connection" was unbanned thanks to emails from parents and local group Alliance for Education. "I don't know where I'd be without them," she wrote.

Miley Cyrus, Dolly Parton
Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton. Kevin Mazur/Getty

Becky Gilligan of the Alliance for Education tells PEOPLE in a statement that the organization "continues to advocate for our community," adding: "This is the most recent decision by a school district administration intent on stifling the diversity and denying equality to the community it serves, further ostracizing Waukesha in the eyes of the nation."

According to Sebert, "Rainbow Connection" was selected to replace "Rainbowland" in the concert.

Sarah Schindler, whose daughter is in Tempel's class, told the Los Angeles Times that the school board went through a "conservative flip" in recent years due to local outcry over COVID-19 policies.

"With that have come some policy changes that have been causing some controversy in our community," said Schindler. "One of those is a controversial topic policy saying that teachers can't have any kind of signage that could be deemed political. ... Discussion of pronouns with students was another thing that came up. And teachers aren't allowed to wear rainbows."

RELATED VIDEO: Dolly Parton on Creating Hope & Giving Back: "Believe in Something Bigger Than Yourself"

According to the School District of Waukesha's nondiscrimination statement, it "does not discriminate in its admissions, programs, activities, services or employment" on any basis prohibited under federal law, explicitly including "sexual orientation" in its list of protected groups.

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After Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed H.B. 1557, largely scrutinized as the "Don't Say Gay" bill, into law last March, many states have adopted similar pieces of legislation making it illegal for teachers to discuss topics related to sexual orientation and gender identity with students.

As of last month, a record 340 pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation have been introduced across the United States in 2023, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

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