Two Teachers of the Year boycott White House visit to protest Trump


The Trump administration is 'filled with a lot of hate toward the LGBTQ community,' said Minnesota's teacher of the year.

The top teachers of the year from Kentucky and Minnesota skipped Monday's annual White House ceremony honoring the national teacher of the year to protest Trump's long history of bigotry.

"The words and practices and policies of this administration have been filled with a lot of hate toward the LGBTQ community," Kelly Holstine, Minnesota's teacher of the year, told the Hill. "I didn't feel comfortable in that environment," Holstine, who is gay, added.

Betsy DeVos, Trump's secretary of education, has been at the forefront of his anti-LGBTQ agenda. DeVos rescinded Obama-era guidelines meant to protect transgender children even though she knew doing so could lead to depression and worse academic outcomes for transgender students.

Jessica Duenas, Kentucky's teacher of the year, skipped because of Trump's bigotry toward a different population: immigrants.

"I did not attend because of the current administration’s approach toward immigrants and the narrative they put out about immigrant families including the lack of reconciliation of children separated at the border," Duenas said in a statement.

Duenas' mother came to the United States as an undocumented immigrant from Costa Rica in the 1970s, and has since become a U.S. citizen.

Trump regularly engages in racist attacks against immigrants, especially from Central America. According to USA Today, Trump's comments mocking Haiti and African nations as "shithole countries," as well as the Trump administration's policy of tearing apart families at the U.S.-Mexico border, played a significant role in Duenas' decision to boycott the White House ceremony.

The event was already under a cloud of suspicion because Trump had decided not to attend to recognize the national teacher of the year, Rodney Robinson, even though there was no conflict on his schedule. The White House gave no reason why Trump skipped the ceremony.

In the end, Trump did meet privately with Robinson after the ceremony.

Last year's national teacher of the year, Mandy Manning, used the White House ceremony as a way to protest Trump's bigoted agenda. Manning presented Trump with letters from some of her students who were immigrants and refugees, in hopes of informing Trump about the struggles they face. Manning also wore pin reading "Trans Equality Now" when she met Trump.

Teachers interact with students affected by Trump's bigoted policies every day. Some of the nation's top educators are using their moment in the spotlight to stand up for those students and call out Trump for the damage he is causing on a daily basis.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.