A New York teacher allegedly banned a student from choosing Donald Trump as her “hero” for a class project, suggesting the girl should admire someone else instead. When the child noticed who others were allowed to choose, however, that’s when the little girl got angry.
Bella Moscato, an 11-year-old Long Island girl, has been a fan of Donald Trump since she was just 8 years old. She even dressed up as the 45th president in third-grade for a previous project. So, when she was told to select a “hero” for a school project in her sixth-grade class at Samoset Middle School, she knew right away she wanted to pick Trump. “Donald Trump is my hero,” Bella told News 12 Long Island.
Sadly, Bella says she was told she wasn’t allowed to select Donald Trump as her “hero” for the project and was told to pick someone else. According to Bella, her teacher immediately shut down the idea, not only telling her to pick another hero but also telling the young girl that Trump “spreads negativity and says bad stuff about women.”
Making matters worse, the teacher allegedly castigated Bella’s choice in front of her peers and another teacher. Bella quickly became upset, and her anger only grew as she saw who the teacher allowed her peers to pick as their hero. “The thing I didn’t get, she was okay with somebody doing Barack Obama. But, not okay with doing Donald Trump?” Bella recalled. “That’s what got me angry — I didn’t like that.”
Frustrated, Bella called her mother, Valerie Moscato, from the school to tell her what had happened, and the Long Island mom was none too pleased. Valerie, along with Bella’s father Arthur Moscato, were outraged. They rebuked the teacher’s decision during a school board meeting, claiming the teacher’s actions amounted to “intimidation and censorship.” They also went on national television to share their disgust:
“I can’t believe anybody at the school would tell my daughter that that guy can’t be her hero,” Arthur said at the board meeting. “I’m incensed by this,” he added. Valeria, of course, shared his sentiments, saying the teacher violated her daughter’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech.
“My daughter has every right to do and pick a hero of her choice. It’s a First Amendment right, freedom of speech, freedom of expression,” Valerie explained. “So it was really upsetting to me that [the teacher] was trying to shut her down,” she added. The school, however, told a different story with Sachem Central School District superintendent Dr. Kenneth Graham unequivocally denying the allegations, which infuriated the Moscatos further:
“It is not accurate that this student was told that they were not allowed to conduct research or report on any individual for a school assignment,” Graham said in his statement, denying Bella’s claims. “To the best of our knowledge, by choice, the student is still conducting their project of President Trump.”
After saying Graham’s public denial only made matters worse, the Moscatos added that they want an apology from the teacher. “No one should make a child feel that way, and you’re supposed to protect my child,” Arthur said. Indeed, if what Bella Moscato said is true — and we have no reason to believe it’s not — an apology is the least that should be done. It’s not a teacher’s job to force their political opinions on students. That’s something even an 11-year-old can understand, so there’s no excuse for an educator not to get it.