Wisconsin school bans Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton from performing duet at a class concert

A first-grade class in Wisconsin was banned from playing a Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton duet advocating LGBTQ equality because the song “could be perceived as controversial.”

Heyer Elementary School in Waukesha had prepared a performance of “Rainbowland” for their spring musical, but school authorities removed it last week. Parents in the district claim that the decision was made because the song promotes LGBTQ inclusion and makes use of rainbows.

According to CBS News, superintendent James Sebert, who did not immediately answer a phone on Monday, acknowledged to Fox6 that officials had deleted “Rainbowland” from the first-grade performance because it was “inappropriate for the student’s age and maturity level.” He also mentioned a school board policy against raising controversial issues in classrooms.

Sebert previously barred the display of rainbows and pride flags in Waukesha classrooms and stopped the school district’s equity and diversity program in 2021.

“Let’s all dig down deep inside, brush the judgment and fear aside,” the song from Cyrus’ 2017 album “Younger Now” goes. “Living in a Rainbowland, where you and I go hand in hand. Oh, I’d be lying if I said this was fine, all the hurt and the hate going on here.”

First-grade teacher Melissa Tempel said she chose the song because its message seemed universal and sweet. The class concert’s theme was “The World” and included other songs such as “Here Comes the Sun,” by The Beatles, and “What a Wonderful World,” by Louis Armstrong.

“My students were just devastated. They really liked this song and we had already begun singing it,” Tempel said Monday. According to Tempel, administrators first banned The Muppets’ song “Rainbow Connection,” but then changed their decision.

Tempel claims that the removal of the song has enraged parents. But she was more concerned about what the prohibition and other district regulations banning children from expressing LGBTQ support meant for them.

“These confusing messages about rainbows are ultimately creating a culture that seems unsafe towards queer people,” she said.

Parton and Cyrus’ representatives did not immediately reply to emails on Monday seeking their comments on the restriction.

School board contests in Wisconsin, especially Waukesha, have been increasingly politicized in recent years. Republicans made significant victories across the state’s school board races in 2022, using the posts to oppose laws ranging from transgender child guidelines to COVID-19 restrictions.