Teacher Balks After Controversy Stems From Classroom Flower Delivery

A teacher is taking on the school board after the way a controversy in his classroom was handled, and Monday night the school board responded.

A showing of support Monday night for a teacher in Central Community Unit School District 301 bellowed chants of "hey, hey, ho, ho, discrimination has got to go!"

"For this to happen now in this day and age, in 21st century, this has to go," retired teacher Deb Twenhafal said.

The protest was in support of Nathan Etter.

Etter is a music teacher at Prairie View Gade School in Burlington. He says a vase of flowers from his husband has caused a months long controversy.

"There was (a) first-grade response, such as "ew, gross," Etter recalled of his students' responses when the flowers were delivered to him on Valentine's Day. "I said 'no friends ... that's not showing respect.'"

Etter says the teachable moment landed him in the principal's office after a parent complained.

The principal instructed him to stick to the curriculum, he said.

"This would have never happened if Nathan received flowers from his wife," his husband, Philip Etter, said.

Nathan and Philip took their concerns to the school board meeting where they received a standing ovation for their efforts.

The school board said the district values diversity and inclusion.

"A primary value of 301 is we are welcome, inclusive, respectful to all faculty, staff, students and families," school board president Jeff Kellenberger said.

But that response stopped short of the apology Etter was looking for.

The superintendent invited Etter to discuss this further at a future date. Etter said it's an invitation he'll accept.

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