A pride float featured in Independence High School's homecoming parade over the weekend has stirred outrage among members of the Williamson County chapter of Moms for Liberty.
Leaders of the organization called on parents to attend Monday night's meeting of the Williamson County School Board to voice their concerns.
Franklin Pride, the Williamson County chapter of the LGBT nonprofit organization PFLAG, has come out in support of the pride float, and condemned Moms for Liberty's criticisms of the float and participating students as being false.
On Friday, Independence High School in Thompson's Station held its annual homecoming parade for K-8 students, with the pride float in question being constructed by Indy Pride, a new school club focused on inclusivity and LGBT awareness.
According to Robin Steenman, chair of the local Moms for Liberty, local parents called her Friday alleging that some students participating in the pride float were "kissing" and "groping" each other, with at least one parent alleging to have seen exposed breasts.
Robert McNamara, president of Franklin Pride, said that the claims were "not quite correct," and refuted the allegation that there was any groping during the parade.
Williamson County Schools spokesperson Carol Birdsong said in an email that the school district is investigating the situation, and that "the students will receive appropriate discipline based on the outcome of the school investigation."
Steenman called the parade float "wholly inappropriate" for students K-8, and said that the participating students who allegedly kissed were violating the schools code of conduct regarding public displays of affection.
"I got phone calls on Friday night from outraged parents that [said] there was a pride float that was paraded in front of K-8 kids, that there was handouts for Bi-Week, and that there was two girls kissing," Steenman said. "They just felt it was wholly inappropriate."
McNamara refuted the majority of the claims.
"From my understanding, two girls kissed and it was just a peck, not a French kiss or anything like that," McNamara said.
"It's not sexualizing, they're not out trying to recruit anybody or to change anybody's sexual orientation, they're just being who they are. So I think it's just a hyper comment thrown out there to stir up the population that doesn't understand."
McNamara also called the group's outrage "ironic" given their name, and called for Williamson County residents to pursue a peaceful coexistence.
"I think it's ironic that if it's a group asking for liberty, should it not be including everybody?" McNamara said.
"These kids are just trying to be themselves [and] have a safe space and grow. It's not new, this crops up time and time again and it's an age-old thing. We're all citizens and we're in this together — we have to co-exist."
When asked whether she thought the same level of outrage would have been seen if it weren't a same-sex couple kissing, Steenman admitted it likely would be less visceral, but said that the school's PDA standards should be applied equally.
"Probably not because kids that young are accustomed to that; it's the end of every fairy tale book," Steenman said. "At the same time, should the code of conduct be equally applied across the spectrum? Yes, absolutely."
The Williamson County School Board meeting will be held on Monday at 6:30 p.m. at 1761 West Main Street in Franklin. Moms for Liberty has asked parents to attend to voice their concerns over the float, whereas Franklin Pride has also asked residents to attend to "support the LGBTQ community."