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November 15, 2021 5:19 pm
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NYC Teacher Files Complaint After Being Told Not to Wear ‘Proud Zionist’ T-Shirt

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

A #2 pencil. Photo: Carol VanHook / Flickr

A New York City teacher has reportedly filed a discrimination complaint after he was told not to wear a T-shirt emblazoned with an Israeli flag and the words “Proud Zionist,” claiming that a standard against politically-themed attire has been unevenly applied

Jeffrey Levy, an English as a Second Language teacher at Middle School 51 in Park Slope, Brooklyn, told the New York Post Sunday that the the directive was given by principal Neal Singh, who had previously allowed other teachers and staff to wear political clothing. Levy said he filed a discrimination complaint with New York City Department of Education (DOE) Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity.

“Singh told me that my T-shirt with an Israeli flag on it and the words ‘Proud Zionist’ were ‘politically explosive,” Levy alleged in the complaint. “He told me that Zionism involves the retaking of Palestinian land and is ‘offensive.'”

“Singh has permitted other staff to wear attire with ‘Black Lives Matter,’ ‘Feminism is the radical idea that women are people,’ ‘Feminist’ and ‘O’Connor & Ginsburg & Sotomayor & Kagan,’” Levy continued.

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“Singh’s definition of politically-explosive attire appears limited to Jews only,” he said in the complaint. “None of my attire, actions or beliefs endanger the emotional or physical safety of students or staff, which Singh accused me of … I have conducted myself professionally and have always respected the beliefs of all while doing my job neutrally and without bias.”

A DOE spokesperson defended the school’s approach, telling the outlet, “Schools are not public forums for advancing personal political views, and per Department of Education regulations, employees are prohibited from using schools for the purpose of political expression.”

“The principal’s request followed complaints from students and staff and is consistent with policies around political neutrality in schools,” the DOE continued.

The DOE Chancellor’s regulations provide that school employees “maintain a posture of complete neutrality” with respect to political candidates, and bar them from wearing “buttons, pins, articles of clothing, or any other items advocating a candidate, candidates, slate of candidates or political organization/committee.”

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