A Republican state representative in Missouri has called a school a “failure” on Twitter after seeing pupils wearing T-shirts promoting “harmony” between gay and straight people.

Kevin Elmer tweeted: “Nixa Schools failure. HS students working elementary school book fair in gay t-shirts”.

The politician also posted a photograph of the shirts, which featured symbols of same-gender and mixed-gender couples with their arms around each other’s shoulders and the message “Harmony”.

The tweet was posted yesterday on Spirit Day, when people around the world (but particularly in America) were wearing purple to show support for young LGBT people who are victims of bullying.

Mr Elmer, who was attending a parent-teacher conference when he saw one of the shirts, told a local newspaper that it was a parental issue rather than a gay rights issue. “I just think it’s inappropriate to be promoting any sexual relationship in an elementary school, whether it’s heterosexual or homosexual” he said.

“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.”