GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — In Grain Valley, safe space stickers may have been removed from classrooms, but students flew inclusive flags in response Friday evening.

The rally at Armstrong Park was meant to spend a strong message to the school board. That message: they want to see a strong support of the LGBTQ+ community and more transparency.

“I just think that it was wrong that they took the stickers down,” Grain Valley High School Senior, Emilee Hieronymus said.

Grain Valley students say their space isn’t safe enough. More than a week ago the school board voted in executive session to remove safe space stickers from classrooms.

The signs are used to indicate that a certain teacher or staff member is an LGBTQ ally, and students can feel safe approaching them about personal issues.

“I’m hopeful that our school board figures out that they need to have transparency. They can’t make decision behind closed doors, not tell anybody who they voted for and who voted for it,” Grain Valley grandmother, Jo Elliot said.

The signs are used to indicate that a certain teacher or staff member is an LGBTQ ally, and students can feel safe approaching them about personal issues.

“It made me feel sad because I just felt like my school was supportive,” Grain Valley junior, Kenya Butler, said.

“I just felt like it was very unfair for them to take away a safe place for the LGBTQ because they get bullied and they don’t feel safe already in the high school with all the homophobic slurs said around the school,” Grain Valley senior, Kaylee Butler, said.

The district responded by saying they wanted all classrooms to be safe spaces. However, the parents, students, alumni and community at the event felt taking them down was the opposite.

“A week ago this wasn’t an issue. A month ago, it wasn’t an issue. They made this an issue,” Grain Valley alumni Justice Horn said.

“We want to know what’s going on with the school board,” mother Chande harper said. “Why they’re making these decisions on non-issues, and I’d like to see them support the LGBTQ students that are at high risk.”

The board has not made a comment about their decision but plan to participate in upcoming listening sessions on the topic.

“I hope that we have more representation of the LGTBQ community, and I hope everyone feels safe and welcome,” Kenya Butler said, whose brother is gay and a former Grain Valley student.

The district said in the coming weeks they will be hosting those listening sessions. It said it will allow the community to have dialogue.

Both school board members and administrators are expected to participate.

The school emailed letters home to families earlier this week, further explaining the decision.

The message said the Grain Valley school board received a concern about the stickers and cards.

“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.

The district said it determined the use of the stickers and cards is not an appropriate step at this time. Instead, the district said it is committed to providing professional development to help staff create a safe and inclusive environment for all students and staff members.