WAUKESHA, Wis. -- Melissa Tempel's first-grade class at Heyer Elementary School in Waukesha County, Wisconsin, has spent weeks preparing for its upcoming spring concert.
Tempel and her co-teacher, dual-language instructors at the school, wanted the concert to have a theme of world unity and peace. Among the songs they selected: "It's a Small World," sung in Spanish, and "Here Comes the Sun" by The Beatles.
Students were also set to perform "Rainbowland," a 2017 duet by Miley Cyrus and her godmother, Dolly Parton, with lyrics that advocate for inclusion. Tempel started rehearsing with her students as soon as the song was suggested by another faculty member and approved by Tempel and her co-teacher. Her first graders, she said, need as much time as they can get to learn the songs by heart ahead of the concert, just before Mother's Day.
"My students loved it immediately," Tempel told CNN of her classroom's reaction to "Rainbowland."
But within one day of students learning the song, Tempel said that school administration asked her to remove "Rainbowland" from the concert. In a statement, the district said it called for the song to be removed because its lyrics "could be deemed controversial" according to a school board policy on controversial issues in the classroom.
"Wouldn't it be nice to live in paradise, where we're free to be exactly who we are," Cyrus and Parton sing. "Living in a Rainbowland, where you and I go hand in hand. Oh, I'd be lying if I said this was fine, all the hurt and the hate going on here."
Representatives for Cyrus and Parton did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment.
"It's really about if we could love one another a little better or be a little kinder, be a little sweeter, we could live in rainbow land," Parton said of the song in 2017, while Cyrus separately noted that some of the lyrics nod to "different races and genders and religions."
"(It would be great) if we all did come together to create and said, 'Hey, we're different, that's awesome, let's not change to be the same, let's stay different but let's come together anyway.' Because a rainbow's not a rainbow without all the different colors," Cyrus told NME.
Tempel said that "Rainbowland" isn't "just a song."
"We're trying to support inclusivity," she said. "The love and acceptance piece, and being who you are, I don't think there's anything political about that."
Per the Waukesha school district's policy, a "controversial issue" is one that "may be the subject of intense public argument" or may have "political, social or personal impacts and/or the community," among other criteria. When reached by CNN, Waukesha school district Superintendent James Sebert did not specify why "Rainbowland" was deemed controversial.
School districts across the US remove rainbow imagery
Tempel, who is worried the ban of "Rainbowland" is tied to broader efforts to curb discussion of LGBTQ topics in classrooms, said school district officials have tried to remove other references to rainbows in schools. She said that last year, administrators asked teachers throughout the district to take down rainbow decor and to stop wearing rainbow lanyards or clothing.