Controversy Sparks Over Miley Cyrus And Dolly Parton Collaboration

Benjamin Imiewanlan
Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton
Getty | NBC

Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton's hit song, Rainbowland, has been hit by the "banned" train. The 2017 song talked about acceptance, but the Wisconsin Elementary School wasn't going to accept it for their spring concert setlist — deeming it as controversial. 

A Happy First-Graded Going Home

Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton singing together on stage
Giphy | The Voice

Sarah Schindler, a mother to a first-grader at the school, told The Times that her daughter came home from school excited about their song list for their upcoming concert. 

The songs for their spring concert included Kermit the Frog's Rainbow Connection from The Muppet Movie, Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World, and Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus's Rainbowland.

Sad News

FOX Breaking News
Giphy | WBRC FOX6 News

While the joy of singing a song she and her daughter loved so much was still in the air, news broke out that the school had banned it. Schindler told The Times that her daughter came home and said, "We can't sing it anymore. We can't sing Rainbow Connection, and we can't sing Rainbowland."

Too Controversial

Dolly Parton as herself, Miley Cyrus as herself
Getty | NBC

Being a curious and upset mother, she contacted the school, the principal, and her daughter's teacher, Melissa Tempel, to find out why they were banned. Schindler states that the response she got said the songs were controversial, hence, the ban.

A Conservative Flip

Spinning coin

While discussing with the news outlet, Schindler reveals that the school, Heyer Elementary School, had a "conservative flip" after the Covid-19 uproar. "With that have come some policy changes that have been causing some controversy in our community."

No Controversial Signage

No No No

The confused mother also talks about the school's strict policy of no discussion or wearing provocative clothing that shows support for political or identity matters. 

In her words, "One of those is a controversial topics policy saying that teachers can't have any kind of signage that could be deemed political... Discussion of pronouns with students was another thing that came up. And teachers aren't allowed to wear rainbows."

An Upset Teacher

Melissa Tempel, a first-grade dual language teacher at the school, shared her opinion on Twitter about the ban. In a tweet on Tuesday, Tempel wrote, "My first graders were so excited to sing Rainbowland for our spring concert but it has been vetoed by our administration. When will it end?"

Not The Same Florida

Melissa Tempel tweet
twitter | Melissatempel

Responding to a comment made by a user on the platform, Tempel highlights the woeful state that Florida has found itself. "4 years ago we had an active diversity team and had @sharroky as our district equity consultant. Now we are Florida."

Acceptability Check

Miley Cyrus clapping her hands on The Voice
Giphy | The Voice

James Sebert, the school's district superintendent, told Insider that before the song was banned from the concert, the teacher who suggested the song had submitted the song for approval.

After Review

Dolly Parton giving a thumbs down
Giphy | Dolly Parton

Sebert also added that upon thorough review by the school's principal and district policy, it was deemed a "controversial issue in the classroom" and "determined that the song could be deemed controversial in accordance with the policy."

Not Surprising

Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus perform onstage at the 61st annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center
Getty | Emma McIntyre

Another parent, Leigh Radichel Tracy, with a child in the school, told The Times that she wasn't surprised by the ban decision. She said, "The School District of Waukesha has really cracked down on anything LBGTQ. So this song being an 'issue' has not in any way come as a surprise."

Speaking On Acceptance With No Judgment

Dolly Parton shinning her palms
Giphy | Galantis

Continuing her conversation, Tracy states her daughter has always accepted the LGBTQ community and has friends there. She also gave an interpretation of the Rainbowland song.

According to her, "All that Miley and Dolly are saying is that they want to live in a world that is accepting, with no judgment, and where people can be who they want to be. It's so sad that this is seen as a 'controversial issue' by the School District of Waukesha. It's a song about a beautiful place of acceptance."

Kind Of Silly

Silly me
Giphy | Saturday Night Live

Schindler, who had already contacted the school, referred to the ban as "silly," saying, "Rainbows have always been linked with the springtime."

Second Guess Everything

Dolly Parton singing on stage in a white dress
Giphy | NBC

The upset mother goes on to talk about the extreme measures taken by the school toward their new policies. She said, "It feels like, because of these extreme policies that have been put into place by our school board in the past year or two, that administration, principals, and teachers are now starting to second-guess all of their choices."

The Song's Lyrics

Dolly Parton (L) and Miley Cyrus perform onstage during the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center
Getty | Lester Cohen

In the four-minute-long song by Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus, some parts of the lyrics stated, "Wouldn't it be nice to live in paradise; Where we're free to be exactly who we are; and Let's all dig down deep inside; Brush the judgment and fear aside."

Not The Only Affected Song


According to Schindler and Temper, Rainbowland wasn't the only song to be hit with a ban. The school also banned Kermit the Frog's Rainbow Connection song for its controversial lyrics.

One Was Reinstated And The Other Was Banned

Getty | Christopher Willard

The school's teacher, Melissa Tempel, updated her tweet, letting her followers know that the school has reinstated Rainbow Connection as part of the song list for the concert. The change in the decision resulted from multiple parents filing complaints about the school's policy on sing choice.

Happy Hippie Foundation

Miley Cyrus attends the 2019 MusiCares Person of the Year honoring Dolly Parton held at Los Angeles Convention Center
Getty | Michael Tran

The Hannah Montana star has always been a big proponent of the LGBTQ+ community. In 2015, she founded her Happy Hippie Foundation to rally young people to fight against injustice to LGBTQ youth, homeless youth, and other vulnerable populations.

Drag Queen

Dolly Parton's tweet
twitter | DollyParton

Meanwhile, the 77-year-old American singer and songwriter have had her share of controversies in the past. In one of her tweets from 2010, Parton wrote, "It's a good thing I was born a girl, otherwise I'd be a drag queen."

Florida Laws

Florida residents waving
Giphy | Tracyanne & Danny

Recently, Florida has been known to dish out strict policies against "inappropriate" information for younger age groups. The incident at Heyer Elementary School is one of the many cases that have sparked controversies in the area.