GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — Former Grain Valley students are speaking out and pushing back after the district forced teachers to remove “Safe Space” stickers and cards from their high school classrooms.

The stickers and cards were a message to students that that teacher was an ally of the LGBTQ community.

“It was different times than what we’ve even seen today,” Justice Horn, who went to Grain Valley South Middle School, said of his time in the district Tuesday. “I mean not only was there not any type of safe space training, but there were no safe space stickers.”

Now though, there are no safe space stickers again as the district had them removed Monday.

“Our goal is for every classroom to be a safe place for all students, not just in classrooms where teachers choose to display a particular sign,” the district said in a letter to families.

After the decision, Horn sent out a tweet gaining a lot of attention over the past day. He said in 2011 while attending the middle school, he tried to take his own life because he was bullied for being gay. Because of the problems he had at the school, his family moved him out of the district.

“It’s a running joke, but it was true. You could count all of the people of color on your two hands at the time,” Horn said. “We all knew each other, but the district was not as diverse as it is today.”

Horn is running as a Democrat for the Jackson County Legislature and now lives in Kansas City. He thinks there’s a lack of understanding for the LGBTQ community and was very upset the district told teachers to remove the stickers Monday.

“This was definitely not an issue, and it’s an issue that they created because a week ago, a month ago, and a year ago, students were being students, and teachers were being teachers, and these stickers were up, and they were not causing a problem,” Horn said.

“But because they made this decision, and even if it is rescinded, I mean people are going to know that their school district and their school board tried to erase them in some sense.”

The Grain Valley School District released the following statement Monday regarding its decision:

“The School Board recently received a concern about the display of cards and stickers by some high school teachers to signal students could feel safe approaching them regarding personal LGBTQ questions. The Board directed the administration to have the cards and stickers removed. Our goal is for every classroom to be a safe place for all students, not just in classrooms where teachers choose to display a particular sign. We remain committed to providing professional development to help our staff create a safe, collaborative, and inclusive environment, consistent with our core beliefs, where each student feels a sense of belonging. The use of these cards, however, is determined to not be an appropriate step at this time.”

The district also issued a follow-up statement to FOX4 on Tuesday:

“We appreciate the comments we have received since communicating the decision to remove safe place cards and stickers from high school classrooms. The feedback will help us be better. An inclusive environment is essential, including our student LGBTQ community. We recognize there is important work ahead of us to ensure an inclusive school environment. In the upcoming weeks, we will host listening sessions for our community stakeholders, so our students, families, and staff have an opportunity for dialogue. School board members and the administration will participate. We will use this input to drive the action that will follow so that together we become the school district our community expects.”

When those exact sessions will take place is not known at this time.

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