Sunday, October 3, 2010

Teacher Fired For Telling Student He Is Gay

I saw this on Towleroad and wanted to share it with you guys.  You know that I am a teacher and to keep my job I have to keep my sexuality secret.  However, I can understand this since I work in a private school.  The rules against discrimination are different.  But this guy was teaching at a public school, grant it the school districts name is Beaverton. (Gay men should always be weary of ‘beavers.”)  Here is the blogpost:

Teacher Fired For Telling Student He Is Gay

23-year-old Lewis and Clark graduate teaching student Seth Stambaugh claims he has been discriminated against while on an assignment as a student teacher at an elementary school in the Beaverton, Oregon Student District. This comes after a second complaint from a parent who had initially already complained about the way Stambaugh was dressed. What was he wearing at the time? According to Oregon Live, "pressed pants, an oxford shirt, a tie and a cardigan. Stambaugh has a light Van Dyke and pulls his hair back into a pony tail." Stambaugh is represented by an attorney, Lake Perriguey.

The Portland Mercury details the second complaint by the very same parent:

SethLater in the week, Stambaugh was leading a journaling activity in the classroom when one of the students asked whether Stambaugh was married. Stambaugh said he was not and, when the student asked why, replied that it would be illegal for him to get married because he "would choose to marry another guy." The student pressed further, asking if that meant Stambaugh liked to hang out with guys and Stambaugh responded, "Yeah." That was the end of the conversation.
After that, says Perriguey, word of the short conversation apparently got back to parent who had previously complained about Stambaugh's appearance. The parent called the school and threatened to remove his child from the classroom.
On September 15th, the principal of Sexton Mountain called the Beaverton School District and told them that Stambaugh was barred from teaching in the district. Stambaugh was told that the comments he had made about his marital status were "inappropriate."
"There's no factual dispute about what happened," says Stambaugh. "The question is whether we tolerate what happened in this state and this culture."

What makes this even more sad is that Stambaugh is of course teaching for the same reason most people do and it's not for the low pay. He said about teaching: "The long hours, the tiring days, they paled in comparison to the sheer energy I got from being in that classroom."

Lewis & Clark says that Stambaugh was dismissed from the school in Beaverton by the school district and though they would have welcomed a conversation about the incident, none was offered.


When I first read this, I thought that he had told the kid that the kid was gay.  That I could understand why he was fired.  I have several students that I would like to clue into the fact that they are gay and they should be able to embrace it, but it would not go over well at my school.  Most people have to figure that out by themselves, but parents are a pain in the ass and this parent who had him fired for telling the kid that he himself was gay, should have been told to withdraw her child from the school and that intolerance was not accepted.  Apparently, this is not how this school works.  This is one of the reasons that the American education system is so far behind much of the rest of the industrialized and developed world. 

Here are some resources I have found for Gay and Lesbian Teachers:

Learning About Sexual Diversity at School

Lesbian and Gay Teachers Association of New York

Gay, Lesbian & Straight Teachers Network

Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network


Bobby said...

I read this and was going to pass it along to you. This is absolutely horrible. I can't wait for the day that this will no longer be a big deal. Hopefully we'll be around to witness it.

Joe said...

Bobby, I was horrified when I read this. It is amazing that this sort of thing can still happen in our public education system. I hope that we live to witness a change in this. I hope that someday Congress will pass a law against GLBT discrimination.

Fickle Cattle said...

I can't believe stuff like this still happens. Crazy.

I am Fickle Cattle.

Joe said...

Fickle Cattle, I can't believe this still happens either. The ignorance and intolerance of people never ceases to amaze me.

BTW, welcome to the blog man, I am adding a link to you blog.

Anonymous said...

Take my word for it, one parent can ruin your life. I'm living it.
Peace <3

Joe said...

Jay, how I know. I have one parent currently after me because she says that I don't give enough grades. I started to send her a rather stern email and then ran it by another teacher first who thankfully told me to tone it down. I think I calmed the woman down and somewhat satisfied her, but I don't like being told how to teach. It is why I prefer to teach college instead of high school. In college we are protected by FERPA, which means we are not allowed to talk to parents of students unless we have a written and signed waiver from the student. I much prefer it that way.

Good luck with your parent problems. I hope they are resolved satisfactorily. Just remember, no matter how much you want to, you can't just tell the parent to "fuck off." LOL

Anonymous said...

Oh, it's resolved. One of there days the blog post will tell all about it. Needless to say, it had nothing to do with my sexual orientation, since no one knows...

I agree, public schools are a terrible place to work (I wasn't teaching), so we'll see...

Peace <3

fan of casey said...

Joe: Sorry, I'm late to the conversation. There's something that seems missing from this story - was some school policy violated? I can't tell, but if these are the facts, then yes something is totally wrong with this.

Joe said...

Jay, I'm glad the situation was resolved. Parents will still drive you crazy.

FOC, I never read whether or not it was a school policy that was violated, but either way, I think it is a problem.