So I Got Ahold of Jerry Buell’s Syllabus…

Jerry Buell is the teacher who was reassigned out of the classroom because of anti-gay messages he posted on his private Facebook wall (though he was “Facebook friends” with current students, which is just shady…).

Even though he’s now back in the classroom, the evidence shows that Buell had no problem talking about his faith while teaching. While I heard second-hand stories about what his syllabus said, I finally got ahold of the one he used for Honors United States History. Now, we can all read it for ourselves (click image to enlarge):

“I am a man of God and I try to be like Jesus every day. I teach God’s truth, I make very few compromises. If you believe you may have a problem with that, get your schedule changed, ’cause I ain’t changing!”

As I wrote before, if I said similar things on my syllabi as an atheist, I would be immediately reprimanded (or worse).

Why isn’t Buell getting the same treatment?

A group called Equality Florida is trying to keep the pressure on his administration and they issued this statement today:

Yesterday, Florida Rep. Scott Randolph (Dist. 36) became the most recent voice to call on the Lake County School Board to strengthen their anti-bullying and non-discrimination policies in light of the virulently anti-gay bias of Jerry Buell, a Lake County school teacher. As a growing number of students continue to come forward to share their classroom experiences of Buell’s anti-gay behavior, we grow increasingly concerned that Lake County has left their students vulnerable to discrimination and harassment by not including sexual orientation and gender identity in their anti-bullying and non-discrimination policies.

You can read Rep. Randolph’s statement here.

I would love for Buell’s supporters to tell me what qualifies as appropriate and inappropriate ways to express one’s beliefs in the public schools. The law doesn’t grant special privileges to Christians, so whatever applies to one group must apply to the others… At what point would they say, “Buell crossed the line”?

You know if an atheist or Muslim teacher *ever* tried to pull the sort of shit Buell did (and continues to do), they’d be getting pilloried for it. 

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • pirmas407

    Aww, he even includes the little Jesus fish by his name… 

    • gobsmacked

      That Jesus fish, in and of itself, should be grounds for dismissal.

      In a just world it would.

    • gobsmacked

      That Jesus fish, in and of itself, should be grounds for dismissal.

      In a just world it would.

    • Scout

      I was wondering if anyone else noticed that.  I bet he was really pleased with himself over that…”I’m sending a message to others of my kind!”

  • http://diaryofamessylady.wordpress.com/ Lauren

    The only up side to this is you know that students never actually read the syllabus…

  • Ladycopper5

    All rightie then, so he’s not the innocent victim.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    I’m more shocked that he lowers your grade for having to use the bathroom during class.

    • Pixie Song

      Jesus had very stern views toward small bladders.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

      Think for a second. Us women, from the age of about 12 onwards, need extra bathroom trips one week a month. And he deducts points for bathroom visits. That’s a little… discriminatory… don’t you think? (And don’t get me started, ‘cuz I’m one of those people, when I gotta go, I gotta go NOW, and I have no problem rolling my ass right out of the classroom, even during lecture.)

      • Anonymous

        It’s not only about women though. Sometimes boys/men have to go too all of a sudden. It’s really not unusual to have to pee outside the break rhythm

    • B-chick

      I’m not more shocked by that, but I do think that should also be illegal. A student can’t help it if  the cafeteria hamburger decides it wants to exit during class (sorry for the vulgar image, but I take issue with teens not being treated as human beings). That also reeks of sexism as it is more likely that female students cannot manage to use the bathroom between classes (it just plain takes us longer to pee, with the whole having to actually drop our pants and such and there is that one week a month issue…), so that is another strike against this jerk.

  • Annie

    Doesn’t the principal have to review syllabi?  Aside from the obvious violation of separation, this is an awful syllabus.  His “homework” section is so vague.  “Well….”  Well what?  And 3 points taken off for using needing to use the restroom?  This could easily be viewed as  sexist, as teenage girls, for about a week each month, will be required to frequent the restroom more often than boys.  

    And a big thank you to whoever supplied the syllabus.

    • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

      That’s a really good point about the gender issue. Reading this the first time it struck me as a really strange policy (possibly as a response to children who keep using going to the bathroom as an excuse to get out of class) but the discriminatory impact didn’t occur to me at all. That makes it really pernicious. 

    • Rich Wilson

      Reminds me of something one of my heroes once said:

      “[The other SCOTUS Justices] have never been a 13-year-old girl”

      -Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

      http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/judicial/2009-05-05-ruthginsburg_N.htm

  • Anonymous

    The problem with asking for ‘acceptable’ rules for teachers to promote their personal beliefs is that it’s never ok and atheists understand that (along with many religious people including Christians).  
    This came up at Ft Bragg.  Christians threw a huge military-sponsored evangelistic event and now atheists are throwing a party for themselves, but it’s not really equivalent because we would never consider it acceptable to use the military to proselytize.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    I’d like to see jail time for infractions like this. Time to get tough with these clowns.

  • Anonymous

    As with the training some companies give to their employees regarding sexual harassment, maybe school districts should do the same for all forms of harassment. It might also help keep the school districts out of hot water legally if they put their teachers and staff through some training to hold them accountable for the personal actions.

  • Anonymous

    Also note that he considers “Manifest Destiny” to be an important teaching subject. While the concept should be explained at some point, it’s hardly on the same level as the others listed

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Arnold/1282804220 Joe Arnold

      You mean it wasn’t important when the Great White Christian Race exterminated all those dirty heathens…I mean saved, yeah saved, all those dirty heathens through the Light of their Lord Whose Symbol is a Fishy?

      • http://profiles.google.com/kelvins273 Kevin Smith

        It is interesting that he chose the phrase “Manifest Destiny” as opposed to “westward expansion.”

  • Daniel Brown

    Oh good, someone else here noticed the Jesus Fish aka the Ichthys under his name at the top of the page.

  • Austin

    If you try you fail, if you want to accomplish something you do it and don’t try to do it. So going off of that, since he “try’s” to be like Jesus he fails at it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Arnold/1282804220 Joe Arnold

    Wait, he docks points off your grade if you need to use the bathroom? That’s just sick.

    Ok, I realize it’s not as bad as his disgusting proselytizing, but come on. Even Jeebus had to take a dump once in a while, right? (At which point the fecal matter rose bodily into heaven.)

    • SiC

      And it was good.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_67O473FUNREIKM5VOOIGGWOQOQ Alan M

    I sent the school board members and chairman this letter.
    I have to tell you that I am quite disappointed in what I perceive as your school system’s attempting to simply sweep the actions and words or your teacher Mr. Jerry Buell under the rug. It feels like you might think that if you ignore it, go on about your business, than all will be well.While my first inclination in hearing that his words were written on his private Facebook page, perhaps he has freedom of speech here. But his words were bias against gay people. I seriously doubt that your school would be so blase about his freedom of speech if this man said similar things about Jewish people, or African-Americans, or obese people. I think then the stink would be more foul.Also, I wonder how wise it is to be accepting and tolerant of his comments, knowing he is perhaps a person some students look up to an model themselves after. Does you administration think that derogatory statements about certain members of the community makes this man a a positive role model?In addition several students are now revealing some of the more shocking anti-gay comments he has made in the classroom, the public’s property, where this is plainly illegal.I have a feeling the administration shall claim the reports unfounded but we do have screen images of his school managed and administrated web page and now his syllabus has come to light, though you quickly tried to pull these and hide them from the public.How does it feel to know that in this day and time you cannot hide this from public scrutiny? Your administration has been shown to be a part of this problem by actively attempting to hide clear evidence of this man’s bigotry, offensive comments, and his unconstitutional and illegal attempts to bring religion, discrimination, and encourage divisive behavior, right into the classroom.This will not go away. Too many are outraged, and watching. You must address this  man’s actions and this issue in your school system immediately. It shall only become more problematic and expensive for you to ignore this further.Alan Mizell

  • Marguerite

    If I saw “I teach God’s truth” on a history (or science) course syllabus, I’d be getting my kid transferred out of that classroom, now if not sooner.  I’ve read enough fundamentalist “history” to find it pretty darn scary.  

  • Steve

    I’ve been to Lake County… I’ll bet that high school only has one honors history section. So, if you get your schedule changed, you take an scholastic step down. I grew up in the South and took honors courses all through high school. I never had a teacher so blatantly christianist. I’ll just bet that there are not any christian-specific questions on the SAT or the ACT. This Bozo needs a new profession without access to kids.

  • dauntless

    This reminds me of many of my high school teachers from over a decade ago. I remember my geometry teacher required us to write an essay on what “WWJD meant to us” at the beginning of the year and used it to give a lot of extra credit to the christians. I wasn’t complaining, since I considered myself a christian at the time.

    • JustSayin’

      I took a what was supposed to be a religion course on the New Testament  at the local community college before I transferred to a university beginning my sophomore year. The instructor–who was a staunch Catholic–taught it like an adult-level Sunday School class. I’d pretty much put it out of my mind until I moved around ten years ago and happened upon a few of the “reaction papers” that I’d written in response to the many Christian indoctrination videotapes that he required us to watch, one of which was produced by the lovely Jerry Falwell’s tax-exempt propaganda mill, and none of which were even tangentially related to what a course like this should have focused upon. I was rightly horrified at how brainwashed I’d been, having simply parroted back what I’d been told in the videos and taught all my life, as I, too, was still a Christian (although with a decidedly New Age-y bent by that period).
      Oh, and yes, if I recall correctly, I got an “A” on every paper…and I’m fairly certain it had nothing to do with my writing ability or the quality of my “criticism.”

  • Rich Wilson

    Wanna bet a shirt with a Darwin Fish, or something similar, would be considered a violation of the dress code?  http://www.lake.k12.fl.us/mdh/cwp/view.asp?A=3&Q=494490

    • B-chick

      It would, but according to the dress code, at least one with a cross would be too. At least they don’t allow the “rebel flag” (which has turned into an event more racist symbol that it was 150 years ago) which is still flown from many public buildings down there.

      I take issue with their no sunglasses rule. If I had to take an outdoor gym class at that school, I’d have been getting in trouble for protecting my vision unless I got a freakin’ note.

  • PJB863

    There was a girl when I was  in second grade who had a perfect solution to the idiotic bathroom policy:  she just went at her desk.  As the puddle began to run down the aisle, the teacher would send her to the nurse. 

    In third grade, it got dicier.  The teacher tried to teach her a lesson by making her sit on the radiator.  Poor Polly got her ass burned – quite literally.  DCFS got involved……

  • Anonymous

    Aside from the obvious restrictions on non-Christian thought and over-active bladders, I like the section on extra credit.  “There will be none. Except that there will be some.” Consistency. I respect that. 

  • Resident Iconoclast

    When this first broke, I said that arrogant creeps like this could not POSSIBLY keep their christionist agenda out of the classroom. It is their reason for HAVING a classroom.


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