A Missouri lawmaker caused a firestorm of controversy last week after he tweeted disparaging comments about teens wearing T-shirts that support gay-straight alliances.

Rep. Kevin Elmer (R-Nixa) reportedly tweeted Thursday: “Nixa Schools failure. HS students working elementary school book fair in gay [T]-shirts.” Attached to the tweet, which has since been deleted, was a picture of a teenage girl in a shirt featuring representations of gay and lesbian couples and the word “HARMONY.” The photo showed only the girl’s torso, according to The Springfield News-Leader.

Elmer had been at a book fair at his third-grade child’s school when he saw several teens wearing the shirts. He told the Leader that he took issue with those garments being worn around young students, as he felt their message could interfere with his ability to parent on issues such as same-sex relationships.

"My wife and I know our kids better than anyone else and, when it’s time to breach certain subjects to talk about certain areas, that should be up to us as parents,” said Elmer, according to local outlet KY3.

However, he said he is not opposed to students belonging to gay-straight alliances, called GSAs for short.

"The shirt itself is not offensive. It’s what it was advocating for and questioning whether or not that advocacy needs to happen at the K through [fourth-grade] level," he said in a KY3 interview Friday afternoon. "It wasn’t a criticism of the students themselves. It was a question as to whether or not that advocacy needed to happen in that environment.”

Still, students at the school and gay rights advocates are firing back at the state representative.

"You're entitled to your own opinion, but don't break people down. We're here about harmony and that's what we're tying to do," Awreon Riley, a sophomore at Nixa High School and president of the school's GSA, told local outlet KSPR-TV.

PROMO, a statewide LGBT advocacy organization, wrote a news release in support of the school’s GSA students.

"Every day, Missouri students are subjected to some form of bullying. Research shows that schools with active Gay Straight Alliances provide a safe environment for students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) and their allies. HARMONY at Nixa High School is one such GSA, and we support them," said Stephanie Perkins, deputy director of PROMO, according to KY3.

On twitter, responses to Elmer’s tweet were swift and negative.

However, Elmer told the News-Leader he feels he is being unfairly persecuted.

“The homosexual, gay issue in today’s society is so hypersensitive, you can’t talk about anything without them jumping on you and being totally negative,” Elmer said.

Earlier on HuffPost:

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  • Holding Hands

    A <a href="http://thestir.cafemom.com/teen/136092/state_senate_declares_holding_hands" target="_hplink">bill passed in Tennessee earlier this year declared hand-holding</a> a 'gateway sexual activity,' with teachers facing firing for even demonstrating the action.

  • Hugging

    Surprisingly, the ban on hugging isn't a one-off rule at a select school, but a trend that seems to be spreading. Schools in <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/03/new-jersey-school-bans-hugging/" target="_hplink">Portland and Florida started instituting these rules</a> in 2010, while administrations in New Jersey, Brooklyn and <a href="http://thedailyedge.thejournal.ie/new-zealand-school-bans-hugging-448032-May2012/" target="_hplink">New Zealand took it upon themselves in 2012</a>. For all, the reasoning appears to be the same: Respecting personal space and "unsuitable interactions" between students.

  • Red Ink

    At <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/3964683/Marking-in-red-ink-banned-in-case-it-upsets-schoolchildren.html" target="_hplink">schools in both Australia and the U.K</a>., green ink has replaced red ink in marking children's paper because of its 'confrontational' nature.

  • Dodgeball

    Due to its "aggressive" nature, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2001/05/06/us/increasingly-schools-move-to-restrict-dodgeball.html" target="_hplink">dodgeball has been banned in schools across North America</a>, as it's frequently named the cause of injuries and fights. Adult dodgeball, on the other hand, <a href="http://www.thendl.com/" target="_hplink">has been enjoying a continued popularity</a>.

  • Non-Motorized Transportation

    You'd think, with all the talk about childhood obesity these days, schools would be encouraging students to ride their bikes or skateboards to school. One New York <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,559460,00.html" target="_hplink">said it was illegal for kids to have bikes</a>, while another Orthodox school <a href="http://www.yourjewishnews.com/Pages/20640.aspx" target="_hplink">disagreed with the freedom afford by the two wheels</a>.

  • Bookbags

    There's plenty of debate about the best possible bookbag for kids -- but one school in Michigan doesn't allow bags into the classroom at all. Citing safety concerns in lunchrooms and classes, <a href="http://www.mlive.com/news/jackson/index.ssf/2009/09/no-backpack_policy_challenged.html" target="_hplink">the high school asked students to keep returning to their lockers between classes</a> to retrieve the appropriate books.

  • Pogs

    There have been many toy bans in schools, but Pogs -- those tradeable metal disks -- made a huge splash when t<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1995/03/22/us/to-end-pog-fights-schools-ban-game.html" target="_hplink">heir safety, and the competitive rush spurred by their very existence</a>, was called into question by schools around the world.

  • Bake Sales

    Though later overturned, a Massachusetts school attempted to <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/story/2012-05-11/Mass-schools-bake-sale-ban/54902332/1" target="_hplink">ban bake sales on the basis of their lack of nutrition</a>.

  • Black Makeup

    In Ohio earlier this year, a 13-year-old boy <a href="http://mitchieville.com/2012/03/27/goth-child-banned-from-wearing-make-up-to-school-goths-mom-to-sue/" target="_hplink">was sent home from school because of his black lipstick, eye makeup and nail polish</a> (boy is not shown here). The school claimed it had <a href="http://jezebel.com/5055243/boys-makeup-gets-him-banned-from-school-what-lesson-does-he-learn" target="_hplink">a rule against "extreme or distracting" makeup</a>.

  • Yoga Pants

    An Ottawa school banned yoga pants last year -- <a href="http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/11/30/no-yoga-pants-unless-theyre-covred-up-ottawa-school-reminds-students/" target="_hplink">unless the tight bottoms were covered up with long shirts</a>.

  • Silly Bandz

    Silly Bandz are fun! Silly Bandz are cute! Silly Bandz are, apparently, a distraction in the classroom and should not be permitted. <a href="http://theweek.com/article/index/203529/the-ridiculous-silly-bandz-ban" target="_hplink">Schools all over North America have banned these collectables from class</a>, but that sure doesn't keep them from getting trading at recess.

  • Best Friends

    No more BFFs for you, British kids! At a few U.K. schools, <a href="http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/4203460/Schools-ban-children-making-best-friends.html" target="_hplink">teachers are preventing children from making "best friends"</a> in an attempt to save others' feelings.

  • Milk

    Milk was always seen as part of a wholesome school lunch, but now a group of doctors wants it off the menu entirely. A vegan and physician group in the U.S. is pushing a petition to get rid of milk in schools, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/25/ban-milk-from-school-lunc_n_1703406.html" target="_hplink">due to it being "...high in sugar, high in fat and high in animal protein that is harmful to, rather than protective of, bone health</a>."

  • Dinosaurs

    Well, not dinosaurs <i>exactly</i>, but the word dinosaur, in addition to other words like "poverty," "birthdays," "Halloween," and "dancing," which <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/26/new-york-city-bans-refere_n_1380991.html" target="_hplink">might elicit "unpleasant emotions" in students.</a>

  • Ugg Boots

    It might get chilly in Pennsylvania, but students there won't be allowed to wear their sheepskin Ugg boots into class, <a href="http://ca.shine.yahoo.com/ugg-boots-banned-in-school--education-crisis-solved-.html" target="_hplink">thanks to the potential for storing contraband like cell phones in the roomy footwear.</a>

  • Baggy Pants

    You may have thought baggy pants were more of a '90s thing, but schools today are continuing to push for bans on the sagging pants, with <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2020259/Saggy-pants-ban-Florida-school-board-plan-new-rules-pupils-dress-code.html" target="_hplink">some schools claiming it interferes with learning</a>, and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/31/saggy-pants-ban-at-chicag_n_1559248.html" target="_hplink">others saying the style is related to gangs</a>.

  • Skinny Jeans

    And then there's the opposite end of the spectrum. Much like yoga pants, skinny jeans have been banned in schools all over the place, due to their lack of modesty and <a href="http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012-03-22/news/31227071_1_dress-code-skinny-jeans-tv-station" target="_hplink">distraction factor for the opposite sex</a>.

  • Winning

    It's physical and emotional injury teachers are attempting to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/14/education/14recess.html?_r=1&oref=slogin" target="_hplink">avoid by banning competitive games in schools and at recess</a>, goes the claim.

  • Balls

    A Toronto school made headlines last year when it was announced it would ban hard balls from its premises, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/11/16/torontos-earl-beatty-school-ball-ban_n_1097594.html" target="_hplink">following a parent suffering a concussion after being hit by a ball</a>.

  • Christmas

    Grinch, much? We've all heard of holiday trees and all-encompassing December concerts, but <a href="http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/8389344/sydney-school-accused-of-stealing-christmas" target="_hplink">some schools have gone as far as banning references to Santa and carols, among other Christmas-oriented terms</a>.