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WAUKESHA, Wis. - A Waukesha teacher asked kids to sing a Miley Cyrus song, but administrators say it's too controversial for elementary school.
The song is called "Rainbowland." It's a duet between Cyrus and country star Dolly Parton. One parent told FOX6 News Thursday she believes the controversy is more about rainbows than the lyrics of the songs.
Sarah Schindler can't wait for the spring concert at Heyer Elementary. Her daughter, Audrey, can barely contain her own excitement.
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"She asked, ‘Are you going to be able to get off work and come to my concert?’ I said, ‘Yes! I will come to your concert,'" said Schindler.
It was a big letdown for Audrey when she came home Wednesday and told her mom one of her favorite songs got pulled from the show.
"She said, ‘We’re not allowed to sing those songs anymore,’" said Schindler.
Superintendent Jim Sebert confirmed that "Rainbowland" was dropped from the set list. He cited a specific school board policy, saying: "It was determined that ‘Rainbowland’ could be perceived as controversial."
Heyer Elementary School
Lyrics include "wouldn't it be nice to live in paradise" and "where we're free to be exactly who we are." FOX6 pressed Sebert for a reason why the song was controversial. He said the district questioned "whether it was appropriate for the age and maturity level of the students" and because of quote "social or personal impacts" on them.
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The school board defines a "controversial issue" as one that "may be the subject of intense public argument."
"I think, for some reason, the district sees rainbows as a political symbol," said Schindler.
Schindler believes recent school board decisions about LGBTQ issues could be a factor because of the rainbow's association with gay rights. At the same time, the district features a rainbow on its 4K enrollment signs.
Sebert told FOX6 the Muppet song "Rainbow Connection" will be part of the Heyer Elementary concert.
FOX6 asked Schindler if Miley Cyrus is controversial in the eyes of the school board. She didn't know, and said she's now struggling to explain the decision to her daughter.
"To me, that is a message I want my child to feel," said Schindler. "Seven-year-olds should be free to be themselves."
Cyrus has previously said "Rainbowland" is inspired by her recording studio – painted in different colors. Parton has said it's about "hope and positivity in dark times."