Kansas state representative calls rainbow drawings proof of indoctrination at Leavenworth school

Proctor claims students have been coached into drawing flags

By: - March 7, 2023 11:56 am
Courtney Ricard said she was angry at the politicization of her daughter's drawing. (Courtney Ricard)

Courtney Ricard said she was angry at the politicization of her daughter’s drawing by state Rep. Pat Proctor. (Courtney Ricard)

LEAVENWORTH — A local parent was outraged when she opened up her representative’s February newsletter and found her daughter’s rainbow drawing published as an example of indoctrination in the school system. 

Courtney Ricard said her fourth-grader drew the picture to show that everyone was welcome in the David Brewer Elementary library.

“I found it and was irate, because he didn’t ask for permission,” Ricard said. “He bleeped out her name, which he thinks is acceptable, but you can’t go to an art museum and print out a picture of someone’s artwork without asking their permission.” 

Rep. Pat Proctor, a Leavenworth Republican, published the drawing in his February newsletter. The picture was one of several drawings done by third and fourth graders at David Brewer Elementary School put up in the library. 

The drawings were done on sheets of paper that had the words “My school library is for every student!” printed on top. Other drawings on the wall included stick figures, cats, a Japanese flag and what appeared to be a depiction of biracial friendship. 

Proctor said there was more LGBTQ content put on the wall than the drawings mentioned in the newsletter and felt it was necessary to alert the Leavenworth community about the issue. He said blacking out the students’ names gave them enough privacy. 

“It was impossible to identify what students did what artworks, and nobody on the planet would know who had done that drawing if the kid’s mom hadn’t thrown a fit in the school board meeting,” Proctor said during a Tuesday interview with the Reflector. 

While parents said the children were allowed to draw whatever they wanted, Proctor felt they had been coached into creating LGBTQ content, and didn’t think it was appropriate to teach this subject matter. 

“I find it impossible to believe that an entire grade of third graders and fourth graders, all on their own, decided to draw rainbow flags and talk about LGBTQ and spell those things out on their artwork,” Proctor said. “I find it impossible to believe that was not the assignment and that they were not coached to do that by the teacher. That’s just implausible in the extreme.” 

Brandi Bond, library aide at the school, said this was a fairly new issue, and had only begun hearing complaints about book displays and drawings in the library this school year.

“Politics don’t belong in elementary schools,” Bond said. “Our kids deserve to be protected.”

Though there are gay parents who have a child at the school, Proctor said “two entire classes produced artwork with pride flags and text about LGBTQ people. It is highly unlikely that that was influenced by two gay parents. It is much more likely that they were coached or instructed to do that by the librarian.”

In his newsletter, Proctor said the outcome was the result of a “radical, woke agenda.”

Brandi Bond, library aide at David Brewer, said politics have no place in elementary school. (Rachel Mipro/Kansas Reflector)
Brandi Bond, library aide at David Brewer, said politics have no place in elementary schools. (Rachel Mipro/Kansas Reflector) 


 Proctor is one of many Kansas Republicans at the local and state level who have emphasized what they describe as a “woke, sexualized agenda,” as well as a “radical, woke agenda” that is putting students in danger, though few have given specifics about what this agenda entails

When asked to define this agenda, Proctor said he didn’t want to discuss it but knew schools should stick to educational basics, such as reading, writing and arithmetic.

Other lawmakers have said parents need more control over classroom materials to prevent indoctrination. The Kansas House has passed a transgender student athlete ban, and the Senate passed a bill effectively banning doctors from providing gender-affirming care to minors. One week in February referred to as “hate week,” because of the amount of anti-LGBTQ legislation debated.

LGBTQ activists have said there is an increasingly worrying trend toward intolerance in schools statewide, with curriculum and library books under scrutiny. Lawmakers have framed the discussion in terms of parental rights to dictate education.

 “You cannot tell me that all those third graders and fourth graders learned to do that from two gay parents that showed up at a school board meeting,” Proctor said. 

Krista Nussbaum and her partner, Teagan Andrews, are a gay couple with several children in the Leavenworth school system and one at David Brewer. They attended the Monday Leavenworth Board of Education meeting to address the newsletter.

The two have ongoing issues with Proctor and Vanessa Reid, a conservative Leavenworth board of education member who has joined forces with Proctor to fight the “radical woke agenda” in local schools.

Nussbaum said Reid has used bullying tactics on Facebook in an attempt to manufacture outrage against local schools and libraries. 

Reid didn’t attend the Monday meeting, and has not responded to the Reflector’s inquiries to comment. 

“It’s not anyone else’s business to attack a child for their beliefs, ever,” Nussbaum said. “Keep your politics off my kids.” 

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Rachel Mipro
Rachel Mipro

A graduate of Louisiana State University, Rachel Mipro has covered state government in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. She and her fellow team of journalists were 2022 Goldsmith Prize Semi-Finalists for their work featuring the rise of the KKK in northern Louisiana, following racially-motivated shootings in 1960. With her move to the Midwest, Rachel is now turning her focus toward issues within Kansas public policies.