On Sunday, October 3, I wrote a post “Teacher Fired For Telling Student He Is Gay” which told of Seth Stambaugh who was fired when he told one of his students that he was gay. I was horrified when I heard about this, and if you’ve been reading the blog, you know that I am a teacher who is in the closet, but wish that I didn’t have to be. Some places in America will take longer to be more accepting (I live in such a place), but you expect the Northwest to be more open and accepting. That is what made this story so discouraging when I first read it. I was very happy to read an email from a new reader named Phil that informed me that on Thursday of last week, that Mr.. Stambaugh was reinstated in his position as a student teacher. Parents in the school district wrote the following letter to the school board requesting that he be reinstated:
This is a message from concerned parents whose children are in the classroom at Sexton Mountain from which the Beaverton School District removed our appreciated student teacher, Mr. Seth Stambaugh.
We as parents were grateful that Mr. Stambaugh was going to be an additional educator and mentor to our students this year. We were pleased that he had begun to develop lesson plans for our children. We know that he had a positive rapport with our children and that he worked well with his mentor teacher.
Our children are now deprived of that additional educator in their classroom at a time when our school is already struggling with budget cuts to education. We are deeply concerned about the messages the District's action, and continued inaction, sends to our children: that some people are more equal than others and identifying differences can lead to expulsion.
We are not pleased that we learned about the District's summary removal in the news, and not directly from the District or from Sexton Mountain. We are concerned that the District and the School made such a dramatic and rapid choice that affects the future of our children's education after speaking to only one or two parents.
The good news is that this is a repairable situation and an opportunity to show our children that when a mistake is made we must take every opportunity to correct it. We believe that Sexton Mountain, and the Beaverton School District, can be better than this. The first step is for Mr. Stambaugh to be unconditionally re-instated to our children's classroom without delay.
Thankfully, the school board responded positively and reinstated Mr. Stambaugh. Below is the video of the news story and then the article about his reinstatement.
BEAVERTON, Ore. – A gay student teacher told reporters he was thrilled to have his position back after being dismissed for a conversation about gay marriage.
Seth Stambaugh, a Lewis & Clark Grad School student teacher, had been removed from Sexton Mountain Elementary School following a complaint by a parent, based on a conversation Stambaugh had with a student about his marital status in which he stated it would be illegal for him to marry because he would choose to marry a man.
Stambaugh was reinstated Thursday by the Beaverton School District. His lawyer, Lake Perriguey, said the offer of reinstatement came at an afternoon meeting at Lewis and Clark College.
“This is a huge teachable moment,” Stambaugh said in a press conference Friday. “I'm glad I can be back in the classroom with the students I gained a great rapport with.”
When asked whether he planned to file a discrimination lawsuit, Stambaugh said, “I’d prefer not to.”
Perriguey said, “Mr. Stambaugh is joyous beyond belief. He is celebrating privately with friends and family.”
Stambaugh will resume his student teaching duties at Sexton Mountain Elementary School next Thursday, returning him to his regular Thursday and Friday schedule.
At the time of the incident, Stambaugh was paired with a teacher in a fourth-grade class at Sexton Mountain. He was leading a writing lesson when a fourth-grader asked him if he was married. Stambaugh said no. The student then asked why. Stambaugh replied that it would be illegal for him to get married because he would be choosing to marry another man.
On Sept. 15, the school district informed Lewis and Clark that Stambaugh would not be allowed back as a student teacher at the school. Stambaugh said that he was only told his comments were "inappropriate."
Earlier this week, 22 parents of students at the school wrote a letter in support of Stambaugh, calling on the district to reinstate the student teacher, whom they said had "positive rapport" with his students.
The two schools released the following statement on Thursday:
The Beaverton School District and Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education have jointly agreed to offer Seth Stambaugh the opportunity to return to his original student teaching placement at Sexton Mt. Elementary School starting late next week. Lewis & Clark and the Beaverton School District will continue to provide Mr. Stambaugh with a high level of support as we do for all student teachers as they begin to serve students and the greater community. We are moving forward with our common values and principles of equity, respect and inclusion.
Thank you Phil for letting me know about the update on this story.