With President Donald Trump nearby, and celebrated teachers, too, Kelly Holstine knelt in protest Monday as the national anthem played at the college football championship game in New Orleans.
Given the opportunity, she had to take a stand for the marginalized and oppressed, Minnesota’s 2018 Teacher of the Year wrote in a tweet that night that also included photos and the Martin Luther King Jr. quote, “No one is free until we are all free.”
The protest has been the subject of national news stories since, but the statement was not without precedence for Holstine. Last spring, she was one of two teachers — the other being Kentucky’s Teacher of the Year — who boycotted a White House visit with Trump.
She said then that the administration’s policies defied her belief that every student matters.
Holstine is a gender-nonconforming lesbian who last summer stepped down from a teaching position at an alternative high school in Shakopee to serve as director of educational equity at OutFront Minnesota, the state’s largest LGBT rights organization.
In the days before Monday’s game, a “TED-Ed” video featuring Holstine was posted during which she spoke of being a tomboy who was bullied and how she wished she could go back to tell that girl how she would learn and grow and be given opportunities to help keep kids safe — and also be one of the first teachers to boycott a visit with the president over discriminatory policies and practices.
Educators must be advocates, not just allies, she said.
In a story posted Wednesday on the Hill website, Holstine said she knew in advance that Trump would be on the field and, after consulting with other educators and her wife, decided to kneel.
She added that she respected the choices made by educators who stood beside her.
Her tweet that night brought some criticism, including a football fan’s comment: “Glad you won’t ever teach my kids.”
But she got plenty of support, too. Among those who retweeted her was Jessica Dueñas, the Kentucky teacher who joined her last spring in boycotting the White House visit.