Cleveland HS teacher raises concern over change to safe space signs

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RIO RANCHO, N.M. – A local teacher is concerned about changes to what signs can go up outside of classrooms. A school is setting new rules about how teachers are designating what they call “safe spaces.”

Many teachers here at Cleveland High School have signs outside their classroom indicating it’s a safe space for students of color, or those who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community. But a new school policy says teachers can’t have these signs anymore that depict “political messages.”

Instead, they can only show safe space signs that only depict the school logo.

Earlier this weekend, Cleveland High School teachers got an email from the principal, saying all safe zone signs in the school have to change, so they no longer show the Pride flag. 

“I’m not sure where this is coming from. Why did signs have to change or what, like, why they have to be these new signs which completely are inadequate in signaling anything that’s meaningful for students,” said a Cleveland teacher. 

The concerned teacher from Cleveland explains anyone who has a safe space signs went through specific training put on by the American Psychological Association, and many teachers have had these exact signs up for years, and it’s a clear message to queer students.

“LGBTQ students, the statistics are really clear, they experienced more bullying, and as a result are more likely to experience mental health issues, or suicidal ideation. And so safe spaces are places where students feel they can just be themselves,” said the teacher. 

But the changes don’t end with the safe space signs. The district says they are also cracking down on a policy from 2018 that dictates what’s allowed in their email signatures, telling teachers they can only include their name and title.

“If you have a gay flag or Pride flag or Black Lives Matter of messaging in your- like, all that has to go,” the Cleveland teacher said. 

With the email signatures removing any political messaging, would that include pronouns?

“Yes. From what I, from what I understand,” said the Cleveland teacher. 

Now teachers are concerned these changes could go even farther, to the point where the district can decide what posters they can or cannot hang up. 

“Now, they’re also talking about voting to extend this to the classroom where teachers can no longer have anything that’s not subject and or school related in their classrooms, which a lot of teachers have been vocalizing disapproval or disagreement with,” said the teacher.

KOB 4 reached out to the Rio Rancho Public School District to ask what the reason is behind this change in policy.

A spokesperson for the school said that they’ve gotten this question from multiple teachers as well, and they’re working to put together a response in the coming week.