The Student Who Said ‘Being a Homosexual is Wrong’ Didn’t Deserve To Be Suspended

There are a lot of stories out there about how a 14-year-old boy, Dakota Ary, got suspended from Western Hills High School in Fort Worth, Texas because he made a comment in German class that his teacher didn’t like:

“We were talking about religions in Germany. I said, ‘I’m a Christian. I think being a homosexual is wrong,’” he said. “It wasn’t directed to anyone except my friend who was sitting behind me. I guess [the teacher] heard me. He started yelling. He told me he was going to write me an infraction and send me to the office.”

“At first I was in disbelief. My son is on the honor roll with great grades. I don’t have any problems out of him,” Holly Pope said.

After hearing Ary’s explanation of what happened, the assistant principal reduced the original suspension from two days to one. But Pope was not satisfied with that.

“He was stating an opinion. He has a right to do that. They punished him for it,” she said.

Liberty Counsel adds (with absolutely no proof whatsoever):

The discipline referral form says the comment was out of context, even though the lesson for the day was on religious beliefs. The teacher charged Dakota with “possible bullying” and indicated, “It is wrong to make such a statement in public school.” Last week, the teacher displayed a picture of two men kissing on a “World Wall” and told the students that homosexuality is becoming more prevalent in the world and that they should just accept it. Many of the students were offended by the teacher’s actions and his continually bringing up the topic of homosexuality in a German language class.

I’ll say the unpopular thing right up front. There are gay students who get beaten up at the hands of school bullies and who have to deal with actual verbal abuse. What Ary said, if he actually said what’s being reported, doesn’t fall into those categories.

If the teacher went after the student for his comment, then I think he was being unprofessional, overreacted, and gave Ary a punishment he didn’t deserve.

But there’s no recording of the classroom, so the student is recalling his own soundbyte. Isn’t it at least possible that he changed what he said after the fact to make it sound less offensive? Not to mention students are also known to exaggerate what happens in the classroom, especially when they think the teacher is “after them.” Not always, but it happens. I’m not defending either side here, but I’m not convinced we’re hearing the full version of the story. All the stories being written about this are unbelievably one-sided. And as much as we want to hear from the teacher or an administrator, they’ll probably remain silent about the whole thing, choosing to just take care of it internally.

Keep in mind we don’t know what prompted Ary to say what he did or what he meant by it (if it was a threat or an off-hand comment). We don’t know how the class functions, or much about this teacher, or how Ary treats gay students at the school. The fact is that students don’t (and shouldn’t) get punished because they point out their religious beliefs, even if it is bigoted.

While we’re at it, people need to stop complaining that they were discussing something other than German in a German class. You’re allowed to go on tangents in the classroom — within reason. And religion is a common thing to discuss in foreign language classes, since it plays a large role in many cultures. According to the stories we’re hearing, the comment was prompted by a student’s question on what Germans thought about homosexuality with regards to religion.

The Christian Post, differing somewhat from Liberty Counsel’s narrative, explained it this way:

The teacher was reportedly telling students how to say religion and Christianity in German. Ary asked a question about Bibles in different countries and what language they are in…

After Ary commented to his friend about his Christian beliefs, the teacher reportedly began yelling at him and took him to the front office…

Yeah… that’s the whole story… sure…

By the way, if the ACLU got involved, they would be on the side of the student. You can’t punish someone for what they think, no matter how bigoted or homophobic it is. Yeah, this kid has a lot to learn, but this is hardly worthy of a suspension. And I say that as someone very aware of what GLBT students have to struggle with on a regular basis, as a teacher, and someone who wants to see that sort of anti-gay rhetoric disappear entirely.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=553145445 Gordon Duffy

    There’s no way that kid should be on an “honour roll” though.

    • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

      I don’t understand. If a student is getting good grades, why not? It’s based on nothing other than grades.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=553145445 Gordon Duffy

        If it is nothing but grades why does the parent feel it is relevant to bring up in a discussion of how the student behaves? Obviously -to the parent- it means more than just grades. It seems to them is is synonymous with -good kid-

        • Aaron Foster

          The parents brought it up because when students are concerned good grades are usually considered to be because they are good kids. Simple as that.  It’s a point of pride for the parents who will most likely think “hey my kid would never do anything wrong”.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

            True. People with good grades don’t have to have good behavior. But as a teacher, I would say a good grade means that the student has good behavior most of the time. One has to be on task almost every waking second that they are in my classroom or their grade will be effected.

        • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

          “If it is nothing but grades why does the parent feel it is relevant to bring up in a discussion of how the student behaves?”
          I don’t know…they’re morons?

  • http://www.facebook.com/DocMonkey Mick Wright

    Full agreement here. The kid’s gonna have trouble enough adjusting to a world full of sane people who disagree with him. He doesn’t need a barney with the school admins on top of that.

    That said, there does need to be an explanation from the teacher. It might not get listened to, but it’s a lot more likely that if the teacher stays quiet then ‘concerned parents’ will be riled up by the first priest to get hold of the story and convinced to put pressure on the school to get that teacher fired. With only the kid’s side of the story being made public, then the only info that’s out there is ammunition for the kind of self-righteous Jesus-freaks who *will* interpret the incident as persecution of a Christian child and try to get the teacher sacked. Moar info, school!

  • Trina

    What seems to me to be a discrepancy (though I could be wrong) is that an honor-roll student is asking what languages bibles are printed in, in countries where languages are different?  Is it just me?  That doesn’t seem like an intelligent question at all from a 14-year-old …. if it’s true that the student asked the question.

    That said, if the statement was indeed simply made in the context of a comment to a friend, and not intentionally loudly for the ‘benefit’ of a nearby student who’s gay or thought to be,  then, no, it wasn’t out of line and shouldn’t be punished. 

    I’d love to see a story done on this by a good journalistic outlet, especially if enough people could be interviewed to get a better ‘read’ on what was actually said and done by both the teacher and the student.

    • Trina

      Sorry, clarification needed:  in my 2nd paragraph, when I said ‘statement’ I meant the one that the student got into trouble over.

    • Jim G

      Very good point Trina. It sounds like the kid was trying to segue into a religious discussion; possibly to proselytize, but more likely to distract the teacher from covering any testable or homework-producing material (if my high school experience is anything to judge by). 

      We have to avoid the false dichotomy of assuming either party was totally in the right or wrong. It’s possible that the teacher was spending a little too much time & energy promoting a personal agenda (whether we agree with him doesn’t matter here – this is supposed to be German Class). Maybe he reacted a little too strongly to a student’s irrelevant comment. I’m also willing to bet that that irrelevant comment wasn’t as innocuous as the student reported, though… 

      It may be hard to sort all this out, now that the issue has become so charged, and parties with their own agendas have taken sides. I would like to see someone give it a shot, though; without all the usual “Balance over Accuracy” bias so common in reportage today (see any articles on Creationism vs Reality for example). Any takers out there in Journalism Land?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

      Tria, have you been around a 14-yr boy lately? I’m a high school teacher and I swear once the hormonal brain wash begins, most guys can’t figure out their right from their left when it comes to common sense topics. Some grow out of it, but some actually never develop past it :/

      It actually is a valid question of sorts, if that’s what was said.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

        Wow.  Look up the history of the word hysteria.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

          Has absolutely nothing to do with it. How is hysteria remotely related to this topic?

          • AmyC

            If you looked up the history of the word you would know how it was related to what you said.

            This article gives a nice overview of the subject:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_hysteria

            Brian was equating your sentiments about how hormones affect a boy’s brain with how women with mental health problems used to be diagnosed with “hysteria” (wandering womb syndrome).  I can’t say that I necessarily agree with his analysis, but that’s what he was referencing.

  • Sailor

    Yelling at kids, does not seem like a good or effective way of teaching them.

  • Anonymous

    While I disagree with the suspension, are you saying that gay people should just sit there and take it? Gay folks pay taxes, too, you know. I’m guessing a gay high school student is less likely to challenge the kid in class (for obvious reasons) and will just have to, once again, deal with persecution from the more popular view in his/her school.
     
    I find it all so sad that this kid is being indoctrinated by such an ignorant, archaic view. It’s his right to say such things, but what about the rights of those he’s talking about? Spew that garbage in your churches and even on the street, but keep it out of public, tax-funded schools.
     

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    School is preparation for the work world. What would happen if an employee said that in front of his or her boss?

    • http://www.thestir.squarespace.com Servaas

      If your boss is consistent, probably the same thing that will happen if you say in front of him that you disagree with any other types of behaviour, if it is simple disagreement you projected.

    • Anonymous

      School is more than mere preparation for work.  Classes should be free to have wide ranging discussions.

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

        The classes I learned the most from — and, as a current college student, continue to learn from — are the ones where discussion is free-form. Hell, in one class last year, we somehow ended up discussing prion disease and zombies! (I think it was a class about the American legal system.)

        • Travshad

          But as a college student, you were able at anytime to get up and leave that class.  High school students do not have that same right.  High school teachers have a greater responsibility to protect their students (who are there by force of law) than to provide a “free-form” forum for students publicly state offensive beliefs.

    • Anonymous

      School is more than mere preparation for work.  Classes should be free to have wide ranging discussions.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

      Nothing.  If the boss fired him it would be religious discrimination.    He expressed a religious belief.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

    As citizens in a free society we have a right to take legal action against those that threaten our rights and freedoms. We don’t have a right to silence dissenting opinion, no matter how repulsive it may be.
    We need to be vigilant against those who are put into positions of power and influence, to ensure they operate within the constraints set down by the Constitution.
    If we are going to operate as a civilized and free society, we can’t just make up the rules as we go along. There are many on both sides of the aisle that seem to want just that. We need to be better than that.
    The brat had a right to express himself in the manner that he did.  His opinion sucks, but he did nothing that warranted action by the school administrators.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

      Why is he a “brat”? Would a student who expresses a pro-homosexuality opinion be a brat too? After all, that student could be offending the Christian student. Or maybe it’s okay to offend the Christian student but not the non-Christian one?

  • Becky Shattuck

    I’m not sure how I feel because I can understand both sides.  If the issue was on race instead of homosexuality, would the school’s (and public’s) reaction be any different?  If the kid said he thinks integrated schools are wrong, then I think the teacher would be praised for raising awareness about the issue in the classroom.  Even though it’s German class, the teacher should try to educate his/her students about the remark.  You don’t choose to simply avoid the issue of hate.

    • http://www.thestir.squarespace.com Servaas

      Disagreement is not hatred. ‘Race’ and homosexuality are two very different things. You can disagree with cultural behaviour though just as you disagree with homosexual behaviour.

      • Himmer

        Homosexuality isn’t behavior. It’s just like race, undetermined by the individual. 

        If you disagree, try “becoming” homosexual.

        • Demonhype

          Exactly.  I know some don’t like the “homosexuality isn’t a choice” thing because it suggests that if it weren’t then it would be okay to discriminate.  But the facts are there that it isn’t a choice.  One can, I suppose, choose to pretend to be straight but that’s unfair to expect someone to actively deny who they are just to be  treated like human beings.  I mean, what if there was some pill that could turn black people white–would it then be morally acceptable to be in the KKK since it’s now a “choice”?  I’m guessing the answer would be no, and rightly so.

          That said, imagine the kid said “I’m a Christian and I think education is wasted on the Sons of Ham” or something to that effect.  What kind of shitstorm would that bring in, no matter how calmly or politely he expressed such an opinion?

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

            I in fact do like cock, the food not the sexual organ.  So should I get all offended when vegetarians tell me that eating meat is wrong?   I can’t help it.  I was born an omnivore.  Are vegetarians bigots who are oppressing me when they state “Eating meat is wrong”?

            The analogy is tighter than you  might think.   They bully too.   Doing things like splashing red paint on people wearing fur.   Destroying years of research at labs, and ruining scientists lives.    Acting morally superior. Etc.

            Should teachers be suspending vegetarians for expressing their opinions on eating meat?

            • http://www.shadesthatmatter.blogspot.com asmallcontempt

              I…um, no. The analogy is bad. Extremely bad.

              Vegetarians don’t bully people. A tiny fringe group of vegetarians do crazy things and get in people’s faces, but I wouldn’t put any money on a standard, everyday vegetarian (or vegan, for that matter) doing any of the things you’ve suggested.

              However, if I meet a Christian, chances are very, VERY good that they will oppose same sex marriage. It’s not a tiny fringe group who run around dogging the heels of gay men just to make them miserable – it’s a significant portion of Christian culture. Focus on the Family, Mark Driscoll, Steven Furtick, apologists like Lee Strobel, and most of your garden-variety Christians.

              And even if a vegetarian got in your face and acted all high-and-mighty, it’s not the same as arguing against homosexuality. Homosexuality is NOT a choice; being vegetarian is. When you attack someone for being an omnivore, you’re attacking a behavior – you choose what your eating habits will be. When you say that you think homosexuality is wrong/disagreeable/repugnant/doomed to hell, you’re attacking a PERSON – something intrinsic about them that they cannot change, not an action. 

              The student didn’t say “I’m a Christian, I think that people who act on their homosexual urges is wrong”, he (allegedly) said “I’m a Christian, I think homosexuality (your sexual identity/who you are) is wrong.”

              • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

                I’m afraid it is your understanding of how analogies work that is lacking.

                If I tell you a earth is analogous to the earth because both are spheres, you don’t get to say the analogy is extremely bad because their diameters are so different.  

                The diameter doesn’t matter to the analogy.

                Likewise how much bullying is done doesn’t matter to my analogy.   Even a little bullying works.    The fact of the matter is that they are a minority here and so can’t do much bullying.   That is not true in India.    They do the exact same things their that homosexuals complain about here.  Such as discriminating in housing.

                The analogy isn’t meant to establish that vegitarians are bullies either.   I could stipulate for the purpose of the argument to whatever level of bullying we desire.   That’s because it is irrelevant.   

                Your comment: “Homosexuality is NOT a choice; being vegetarian is. ”   Shows you didn’t even understand the analogy.    The analogy didn’t map homosexuality to vegetarianism.   It mapped homosexuality to omnivory.

                So you are confused, and I’m not sure how to get you to realize your error.

                You are further confused because I am not only assuming that homosexual orientation is inborn in my analogy but I also believe that in real life.

                There is however a difference between homosexual orientation and homosexual activity.    You equivocate between the two and that is yet another thing that leads you to make mistakes here.   

                So here’s the mapping:
                a) Homosexual (orientation) -> Omnivore
                b)Homosexual behavior -> Meat eating behavior
                c) Christian -> Vegetarian

                … and as an side (I said “The analogy is tighter than you  might think.”)
                d) Christian persecution of Homosexuals -> Vegetarian persecution of those who eat meat.

                Since vegetarians do persecute non-vegetarians (to whatever degree) the  part d) is also analogous.  However it is not important do the point.

                There are other differences but they too are unimportant.   It would be a tighter analogy if I replaced Christian with Heterosexual.

                Note that not every Christian, like not every heterosexual has a problem with homosexuality.  Just as analogously not ever vegetarian has a problem with people who eat meat.

                “The student didn’t say “I’m a Christian, I think that people who act on
                their homosexual urges is wrong”, he (allegedly) said “I’m a Christian, I
                think homosexuality (your sexual identity/who you are) is wrong.”

                As I pointed out in the other comment the word “homosexuality” is ambiguous.  It can mean either.   So it is just as reasonable to interpret it as: “I’m a Christian, I
                think homosexuality (the sexual behavior) is wrong.”

                BTW, you interjected “your” into the statement.   Which would imply he was talking to a homosexual.   There is zero evidence of that.

                You don’t get to redefine what other people mean by their words.

                • http://www.shadesthatmatter.blogspot.com asmallcontempt

                  Since I am small minded and unable to grasp metaphor, I’m gonna boil down my argument for you.

                  I don’t give a flying fuck what analogy you use – it’s bigotry to think less of another human being because of their orientation (which, by the  way, was the distinction I made when you quoted me saying that I was twisting words – rather, I was merely clarifying the difference between the two statements). It doesn’t matter how many extremists you have or the “amount” of bullying that happens. It doesn’t matter what holy book you use to justify it.

                  You have no right to put others down or make them feel excluded in a classroom, regardless of how strongly you hold your “opinion”. Every student in every classroom in every public school has the right to a learning environment where the students are treated like equals, even if the student isn’t in the minority.

                  I don’t know if the student in question directed the statement exactly as recorded here and I certainly feel that teacher’s reaction (if it happened as described) was overkill; however, the statement was wrong and poisonous and merited some sort of disciplinary action.

                  Religion is not a “get-out-of-jail-free” card for expressing “opinions” when those beliefs affect other people. Period.

                  Oh, and for the record, I’m curious as to how you go about navigating between the disagreement with the act of homosexuality and the…urge…as you put it. Given that you aren’t in the bedroom of every gay person, I think that would be a tough distinction to make.

                • http://www.shadesthatmatter.blogspot.com asmallcontempt

                  Since I am small minded and unable to grasp metaphor, I’m gonna boil down my argument for you.

                  I don’t give a flying fuck what analogy you use – it’s bigotry to think less of another human being because of their orientation (which, by the  way, was the distinction I made when you quoted me saying that I was twisting words – rather, I was merely clarifying the difference between the two statements). It doesn’t matter how many extremists you have or the “amount” of bullying that happens. It doesn’t matter what holy book you use to justify it.

                  You have no right to put others down or make them feel excluded in a classroom, regardless of how strongly you hold your “opinion”. Every student in every classroom in every public school has the right to a learning environment where the students are treated like equals, even if the student isn’t in the minority.

                  I don’t know if the student in question directed the statement exactly as recorded here and I certainly feel that teacher’s reaction (if it happened as described) was overkill; however, the statement was wrong and poisonous and merited some sort of disciplinary action.

                  Religion is not a “get-out-of-jail-free” card for expressing “opinions” when those beliefs affect other people. Period.

                  Oh, and for the record, I’m curious as to how you go about navigating between the disagreement with the act of homosexuality and the…urge…as you put it. Given that you aren’t in the bedroom of every gay person, I think that would be a tough distinction to make.

                • http://www.shadesthatmatter.blogspot.com asmallcontempt

                  Since I am small minded and unable to grasp metaphor, I’m gonna boil down my argument for you.

                  I don’t give a flying fuck what analogy you use – it’s bigotry to think less of another human being because of their orientation (which, by the  way, was the distinction I made when you quoted me saying that I was twisting words – rather, I was merely clarifying the difference between the two statements). It doesn’t matter how many extremists you have or the “amount” of bullying that happens. It doesn’t matter what holy book you use to justify it.

                  You have no right to put others down or make them feel excluded in a classroom, regardless of how strongly you hold your “opinion”. Every student in every classroom in every public school has the right to a learning environment where the students are treated like equals, even if the student isn’t in the minority.

                  I don’t know if the student in question directed the statement exactly as recorded here and I certainly feel that teacher’s reaction (if it happened as described) was overkill; however, the statement was wrong and poisonous and merited some sort of disciplinary action.

                  Religion is not a “get-out-of-jail-free” card for expressing “opinions” when those beliefs affect other people. Period.

                  Oh, and for the record, I’m curious as to how you go about navigating between the disagreement with the act of homosexuality and the…urge…as you put it. Given that you aren’t in the bedroom of every gay person, I think that would be a tough distinction to make.

            • NorDog

              Meat is murder.

              Delicious, delicious murder.

        • Anonymous

          Regardless, it’s easy to respond to people who equate choice with no need for legal protection. Remind them religion is (indisputably) a choice and ask whether that should remain a protected class.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

          Being attracted to the same sex may not be behavior but having homosexual sex is.  That’s true for anyone whether they are attracted to the opposite sex or not.    

          Heterosexuals having homosexual encounters happens too.  I think it quite reasonable to say that homosexual sex is wrong in general for heterosexuals, without getting into all the specific exceptions.   

          The Christian world view is that there is a God and that he frowns upon the behavior.    If a Christian believes you’ll burn forever in hell for a homosexual act, regardless of your orientation, then that is what they believe.

          I don’t think their position is that being attracted to the same sex gets you into hell.  Only the act itself. 

          It’s sort of like other things that will get you into hell.    You can be attracted to a married woman who is not your wife, no problem.    Have sex with her and you’ve bought a ticket to hell.

          So it is quite unlike race.

          The problem many gays and feminists have is that they are interpreting statements made by other from their own world view.   Thus they are mistranslating the statements made by others.   The semantics is about relationships of ideas to other ideas.   You are lacking some ideas and therefore the semantics just don’t translate.

          Most people are very ambiguousin their language.    “Being a homosexual” has three possible meanings.   “Being a[n active] homosexual” and “Being a[n inactive] homosexual” and “Being a[ny kind] of homosexual”.

          You’d have to find out exactly which kind of Christian this kid is and what their doctrines are to know precisely what he meant.

             

          • Rich Wilson

            You can be attracted to a married woman who is not your wife, no problem.    Have sex with her and you’ve bought a ticket to hell.

            According to the 10th commandment:

            thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

            So no, according to the 10 commandments, all you have to do is be attracted to her.  On the other hand, it doesn’t say anything about coveting your neighbor…

            • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

              Covet doesn’t mean what you think it does.    Being attracted to a married woman is not the same as coveting her.

              Here this might help you: http://www.visualthesaurus.com/

              Type in covet and you will see that attraction is not a synonym.

              Nice try though.    Maybe you got this notion from Jimmy Carter?     He used the word “lust” which also has a different definition.  

              • Rich Wilson

                Coveting her also doesn’t mean having sex with her.  No matter where you want to put ‘covet’ in the continuum from ‘attracted’ to ‘lust’, the commandment is clearly talking about a thought not an action.

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

                  “Coveting her also doesn’t mean having sex with her. ”

                  I’ve responded to this several times and it never appears.

                  I never claimed that coveting means having sex with her.    That’s covered by one of the other ten commandments.   I didn’t even mention the tenth commandment.

            • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

              For a second there I was wondering why thy neighbors husband isn’t listed then I realized this was about property.    Back then the wife was chattel, and “servant” here means slave.

              There is another way to covet your male neighbor,  as a slave.   So apparently the way to get around the other issues is just to make your neighbor your slave and you get all his stuff including his wife.    Especially since the 10 commandments don’t specifically ban slavery.

            • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

              Uhm yes it does. The idea is that a person covets. If you put ANYTHING or ANYONE above God then that is a sin. If you have a sexual desire outside of the marriage relationship then that would be considered having an adulterous heart.

        • NorDog

          I wouldn’t say it is “just like race” but it certainly like race in the way you mention.

          • NorDog

            Er, ah, that should be “…but it certainly IS like race…” etc.

  • Anonymous

    If what he says is true, then he should’ve just been told to stay on topic (and keep the religious stuff for outside, like anyone else). If it’s not, we’ll see.

  • JoYavin

     ‘I’m a Christian. I think being a homosexual is wrong”, he said.

    Shouldn’t somebody explain to him that homosexuality is not a “choice” of lifestyle.  Maybe he should ask his god why he created homosexuality.  He should say:

     ‘I’m a Christian. I think God is wrong’

  • Anonymous

    We are only hearing one side of the story but even if he is being 100% accurate in his side , I don’t really care much. Half a day of in school suspension isn’t anything.  I got 2 weeks of detention and Saturday school once because my mom forgot to call in an illness and excuse my absenses and the school had a strict 48 hour call in policy.  Unfair, unjust but high school is kind of like that.  I don’t think it should necessarily be a hard rule – all negative statements against homosexuality get suspension – but you can’t make a huge deal about every little one off incident of unfair high school situations.  When would it end?

    And schools tend to have a rule against commenting on situations like this, at least until well after it’s been settled.  By then it won’t matter, this student represents some kind of martyr now and their story isn’t ever changing.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, I’m going to disagree with the lot of you on this one. Just like schools have dress codes that limit the right of students to wear what they want, so they behavioural codes to limit what they are allowed to say or do.

    Not for one moment do I accept the kid’s version of what happened: that he said “I’m a Christian and think homosexuality is wrong.” to his friend who presumably already knows both of these things and using that sanitized language? And then the teacher “yelled” at him? Oh, that’s just so much bullshit it’s surprising that anyone is buying it. 

    But even if we take that at face value, I think that a no-tolerance policy for racism, sexism, and heterosexism is necessary to make the school environment a safe place for learning. If Dakota wants to express his opinion on the subject, he can do so when he’s no longer on school grounds.

    Perhaps if our schools were to provide such a bigotry-free zone, kids would learn that bigotry isn’t acceptable in civilised society.

    • Anonymous

      I have to agree.  We have enough corpses from suicidal gay teenagers already.  We don’t need any more. 

      No one should be taught or shamed into despising who or what they are!

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

      Yup. Because all teachers are perfect. Please. I am a teacher and I know some who have become teachers only b/c it makes them feel important. They go on power trips all the time and express negativity for anyone who says anything opposed to his/her opinion. Yup.Teachers are all knowing alright. Yeah right!

      • Anonymous

        Did you get the impression that I think no teacher has ever yelled at a student? Or that I believe that all teachers are sanctified angels who can do no wrong?  Then I suggest you read what I said over.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

          No not in every case that would be silly. But you sure made it seem like that couldn’t have happened in this case. You said the you wouldn’t accept the students’ version. Why not? What does a 14 year old have to gain from this really? What does the teacher have on the line? His job!

    • http://twitter.com/WorshipIntern Matthew Bailey

      You are saying that the school ground has to be a safe place for learning, and that his opinion has to be voiced somewhere other than at a school. — Do you see where your logic is WRONG?

      I am not taking one side over another, but:If you can’t voice opinions at a school, then you can’t be teaching about homosexuality either… because once again that is an opinion.If you can’t voice opinions at school, then you can’t be teaching about evolution over creation either … because that is an opinion.If you can’t voice opinions at a school, then you can’t be teaching about numerous issues … because it’s always an opinion.You can’t have first amendment rights apply to only one side of the issues, because then what point is there in having rights in the first place. Wherever you stand on any issue: you have the right, I have the right, we all have the right to speak our minds, no matter what the issue. This isn’t about racism, sexism, heterosexism…. this is about a belief. this is about speaking an opinion. This isn’t bigotry. This was an opinion from a student who had a belief, whether he wasn’t able to handle his opinions in a civilized manner is the issue. He may have spoken out of turn…. but we by no means have the entire story. We will always have 2 sides to every story. 

      If he did speak out of turn as Mr. Franks claims, then yes he should have been reprimanded…. but, if it was in context and it was only spoken to a classmate, not to the entire class, then in no way did he deserve to be reprimanded.

    • Bob

      How about the teacher putting up a picture of 2 men kissing? … I think that that is part of the story.  The bottom line is that a person’s sexual proclivities should remain in the privacy of their own home … period. Yes, bullying is wrong but what will NEVER work is trying to force homosexuality as a “norm.” It just isn’t in any domain …

      • Rich Wilson

        Only if you’d have the same problem with a picture of two women kissing.  If you don’t want pictures of people kissing in the classroom, fine.  No kissing.  Maybe teachers should also take off their wedding rings?

        • Bob

          I’ll grant you that but STILL, forcing homosexuality as a “norm” will never work because it ISN’T … and that is NOT a religious comment since I’m not a religionist. … and yes, homosexuals should NOT be bullied but instead be protected under the laws that apply to all against that kind’ve thing, regardless of orientation.

          • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

            “Forcing” is a curious word to use. Children aren’t born homophobic. What do you think is responsible for younger generations being so much more accepting of homosexuality than older ones? It’s precisely because they have grown up with LGBT people as part of the norm. Just as with racism and sexism, children who are not raised to think of homosexuality as weird, foreign or stigmatizing do not develop negative perceptions of it. It’s quite simple, really. The anti-gay folks have already lost the societal battle on this one. The generation of people under 25 has grown up with LGBT visibility, and that naturally leads to open-minded attitudes and acceptance.

            • Bob

              Just what I mean Ana. equating “gay” with racism and sexism creates a false ground for your arguments. Homosexuality is NOT a race nor is it a female/male matter in the ordinary (natural) sense. Biological and  anatomical norms aren’t simply a matter of political correctness or opinion. It’s simply a matter of organic “architecture” that is given in the very fabric of how life works … if one can remove emotion, it is simply an anomaly.

              • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

                You’ve completely missed my point. Children are not born thinking negative things about homosexuality. Those negative attitudes are taught to them. Children who grow up seeing LGBT people in their daily lives do not have a reason to start believing that homosexuality is wrong or strange or bad.

                You obviously hold anti-gay attitudes, but you weren’t born with them. Babies don’t care about sexual orientation. You’re as much a victim of indoctrination as the Christians who come here talking about Jesus. There is no logical reason for you to be anti-gay. If you don’t subscribe to religion, I can only think that your objection must be based on the negative attitudes you’ve encountered in society.

                • Bob

                  lol. I have a few close gay friends. lol.

                  You will eventually hurt their cause Ana. You may mean well but you are completely off the mark and you (and your ilk) will keep pushing till a predictable backlash happens.

                  If you could put your emotions and personal wants aside, perhaps you could one day see the light. lol

                • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

                  Once again, you’ve responded to none of my points.

                  The fact remains that you were not born homophobic, and neither was anyone else.

                  You obviously weren’t raised in an accepting environment. I was, and I can tell you that children do not see homosexuality as problematic unless they are taught to do so. 

                  Your homophobia makes no sense. It’s not logical. It’s as much an acquired belief as religion. If it’s not based on religion, then it must surely be based on the stigmatization and silence surrounding homosexuality that you witnessed growing up.

                  Calling names (my “ilk”?) is ridiculous. One day I will “see the light” and embrace homophobia? Why? Why on earth should I feel upset or threatened by the LGBT community? More to the point, why are you?

                  P.S. Why do anti-gay people always insist that they have gay friends? Do your friends know that you consider them inferior?

                • Rich Wilson

                  Once again, you’ve responded to none of my points. 

                  People who resort to ‘ilk’ as a rhetorical device seldom do.

                • Bob

                  On last thing. Seriously, I don’t have the time to carry on with yous … I have this very close friend in London who is gay and she and her gay friends call themselves “queer” not in a weird way but in a matter-of-fact way and I think that makes them healthier overall and more accepted than if they tried to force acceptance with a militant in-your-face gayness that many in your community are adopting … mmmm. Something you might consider (probably not right?) bye you guys …

                • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

                  Huh? “Queer” is a term that some LGBT people use to describe themselves, sure. It’s a reclaimed slur. I’m baffled by the rest of your post. What on earth does your London friend’s terminology have to do with “militant in-your-face gayness?”

                  I’m also slightly amused that you seem to have decided that I’m a lesbian simply because I see no reason for homosexuality to be stigmatized.

          • Rich Wilson

            Being left handed isn’t normal.

            Most people are born right handed.
            Some people are born ambidextrous.
            Left handed people can learn to use their right hand fairly well, but they’re still left handed.
            There’s evidence of a genetic link, but it’s still unclear.  Interestingly, identical twins have a high frequency of one left handed, one right handed.
            In many cultures left handedness has been seen as evil or deficient, or, ‘not normal’.

            There are a lot of ‘abnormal’ things in our world that we don’t pretend don’t exist.   People are born with sex chromosomes other than XX or XY.  People are born with dwarfism.  People are born blind, or deaf, or both.  People are born as conjoined twins.   Heck, a ‘normal’ person has black hair and brown eyes.  Should we make sure we have no pictures of blue-eyed people in the classroom? 

            • Bob

              a specious argument. you’re trying to start with a belief and then justify it.

              • Rich Wilson

                What belief is that?  That gay people exist?  That gay people have existed at least since the dawn of human history?  That gay people have existed even in cultures that killed them?

                ‘Normal’ is irrelevant.  Atheism isn’t normal, since the vast majority of the planet is religious.  So what?  What does pretending gay people don’t exist accomplish?
                 

                • Bob

                  uh. Not normal Rich but Natural.

                  A vagina, by design, goes with a penis at the physical level and that is but the tip of the iceberg when considering the whole. Man gives woman and woman give man and together they give life and that is NOT a religious statement.   … carry on

                • Rich Wilson

                   by design

                  No part of the body is ‘designed’.

                  And good thing, or we’d have to stop masturbating.

                • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

                  Heck, I sure hope Bob doesn’t use his mouth for anything other than talking and eating!

  • http://www.facebook.com/marfknox Martha Knox

    Thanks for this even-handed commentary on this event. 

  • Chuck

    Hey, my alma mater made it into the national news! Go Cougars, ’83!  :-)

  • Bec

    Christianity is wrong. It is promoting homophobia. The kid
    is only perpetuating what he hears in church.  The same church that tells him from the Bible
    that women are inferior to men and that God will send people from other
    religions to hell. So don’t blame the kid, blame religion.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

      What the junk church says that women are inferior? Mine sure doesn’t.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

        Most of them from what I can tell.   A specific example would be the Catholic church.   In words and deeds.

        It’s not surprising because women are treated as chattel in the bible.   That’s why the ten commandments doesn’t say, “Covet not your neighbors husband, slaves, barnyard animals, and other personal property.”

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

          Uhm…. apparently you’ve never read Song of Solomon from the Bible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chriswarr78 Chris Warren

    The child’s belief system is deplorable, and a direct result of his religious inculcation. The teacher’s aggressive behavior, and reactionary punishment did nothing to alter the students worldview. I believe that minds can only truly be changed through education, and that the teacher missed an opportunity because of his negative reaction. We can’t simply punish bigots into an enlightened state……sadly. Having said  that – I’m glad the little fucker got punished. I’m an Atheist, and I think it’s wrong to be a superstitious, dogma touting, moronic Christian™. 

  • Anonymous

    The best way to get rid of a bad idea is to let people hear it.  I absolutely disagree with the kid here, but I’d say it’s worse to demonstrate to him and everyone in the class that authority figures will punish you if you say something that they disagree with.   

  • http://www.facebook.com/robby.shaver Robby Shaver

    should be keeping that garbage, SEPARATED, from school. and this wouldn’t be an issue. But , I do believe that he gave his opinion, appropriately.  What does this have to with a German class any way.   This teacher is lucky this was not my boy. 

    • Jln Francisco

      Because your child being a bigot making life worse for his peers should never, ever be confronted with anything but smiles and laughs.

  • http://www.shadesthatmatter.blogspot.com asmallcontempt

    Yeahhh…I’m suspicious that we’re getting the whole story, too. I’m sure the girl who told the only openly atheist student (that I knew of) that he was the Antichrist in front of me before class got started went home and told mom and dad that she’d been punished because of “expressing her opinion” or some rot.

    But I TOTALLY disagree with the teacher responding by yelling at him. Pull the student out into the hall, calmly explain to the class, but don’t yell. From what it sounds like, the kid wasn’t being malicious (although, like you point out, it could be more malicious than what we’re told), just being dumb.

    I am vehemently against punishing stupidity, especially when it comes from a kid. 9th graders are trying on a variety of opinions at this point, and being able to openly share and evaluate opinions in the presence of an insightful, caring teacher will go farther to encourage students to critically think about the consequences of their actions than punitive discipline ever will. 

    • Anonymous

      If you don’t believe that the kid was just expressing an opinion, why assume that the teacher was in fact “yelling”?

      • Anonymous

        We’re unlikely to ever know the teacher’s side unless this actually goes to court, or she ends up fired and has nothing left to lose.  I’ll bet the teacher has been instructed not to speak to the press about this at all.

        The heavily sanitized language from the student, and the reportedly disproportionate response from the teacher definitely suggests that something is being left out or misrepresented.

      • http://www.shadesthatmatter.blogspot.com asmallcontempt

        It seems to me that there are two facts that seem muddy: what the kid actually said and how the teacher actually responded. If the student said exactly what we said he did (“I’m a Christian. I think being a homosexual is wrong”), then I think – if his other claim is true – that yelling is an overreaction. I’m only suspicious because of my own experience in the classroom; a situation would go from “I didn’t turn my homework in” to a parent calling me and interrogating me on how I was punishing their child! Kids really do exaggerate and twist words – as the next commenter mentions (highly sanitized language).

        There are definitely moments when student have malicious intent; however, my gut instinct in REALLY crap situations like that is to get the problem student OUT. Just get them out of the classroom. As soon as you respond with the disciplinary “action” of yelling at a student, you’ve already lost. Getting in verbal battles with students and otherwise locking horns always makes you look like a boob.  

        If the student had many any comment in my classroom that was “gay people are wrong + Bible” I would have redirected the discussion, talk about why bigotry is wrong, regardless of your holy book, and maybe have the students weigh in on it. Chances are, there are other kids in the classroom that need to hear it as well. Then I’d take the individual student aside when class it quieter and when other students are engaged in a task and make sure they understand why the comment was inappropriate in general, and for the specific circumstance. 

        But, it depends! If the comment was directed at a specific student or had a lot more hate laced in, then I’d just point to the door and write him up. Seriously, if your opinions in the classroom harm other students, GTFO.

      • TheBlackCat

        There is also the fact that the teacher even heard his comment in the first place if he was talking privately to someone behind him (and thus would have been facing the other direction).  

        Although not impossible, it seem unlikely that someone in high school would not know how to say something quitely enough that it isn’t overheard.  It would seem more liikely to me that whatever he said he intended to have heard by the class.

  • Icewings27

    How come it’s OK for the teacher to present controversial subject matter in a language class, but it’s not OK for a student to respond to that controversial subject matter? The teacher is the one who brought up homosexuality in the first place.

    And, I don’t care if it’s in school or not, the First Amendment does apply here. We are allowed to have unpopular opinions in this country. It scares the hell out of me that we are now having Thought Police. As long as the kid was not directly threatening anyone he is allowed to voice his opinion. If that makes a gay kid in the class uncomfortable, too fricking bad. You do not have the right to never be offended.

    • Anonymous

      You’re confusing Thought Police and Behaviour Police. And this isn’t about not being offended, it’s about providing a place that is free of harassment and bullying. We don’t allow discrimination and harassment in the workplace, but at school it’s okay?

      I’m sure that Jamey Rodemyer would have been happy to know that his being uncomfortable was just too fricking bad, because we can admonish kids for talking back to the teacher, swearing, chewing gum, talking on cellphones, wearing ripped jeans, or skirts with a high hemline, but the Holy Sacred Constitution forbid we apply some discipline when it comes to making life miserable for other kids.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

        ” And this isn’t about not being offended, it’s about providing a place that is free of harassment and bullying.”

        That is exactly the excuse the thought police are using to eliminate free speech.  That and other excuses for their speech codes.

        It was the kind of rationale used for ruining one guys life because he had the audacity to say to another student that leprechauns were not scientifically proven.

      • Icewings27

        No, I’m not confused. I assume you are not from the US since you wrote “behaviour”. So I will forgive your ignorance of the US Constitution. It is neither Holy nor Sacred. It is the foundational document of US law. The First Amendment protects free speech and this extends to students in school.

        The student expressed an opinion. He was not inciting violence or expressing a desire to do anything bad against homosexuals. He might as well have said, “I don’t like chocolate ice cream. I would never eat it.” This does not mean that every chocolate ice cream eater in the class should feel oppressed and threatened. It just means they have different tastes.

        I fail to see how expressing an opinion in a controlled classroom setting would make like “miserable” for any other kid. No one was singled out or confronted about their sexuality (except maybe the teacher himself, as later articles have indicated), and regardless, it is still OK for the student to have his opinion. It may be unpopular, and that is exactly the type of speech the First Amendment is meant to protect.

        Jamey Rodemeyer was actively, directly bullied. This is not even remotely the same situation. The student did not harass or bully anyone when he said he thought homosexuality was wrong. If anything, he risked becoming a victim of harassment himself by stating a minority opinion.

        • Anonymous

          “The First Amendment protects free speech and this extends to students in school.”To a very limited degree; see the Tinker and Hazelwood cases. You’re actually exposing your ignorance by making such a blanket statement about the protection of free speech in schools.”He might as well have said, ‘I don’t like chocolate ice cream. I would never eat it.’”Expressing an opinion (opposition to homosexuality) that has been the basis of bullying, murder, mass-murder, and other violence is not morally equivalent to expressing an opinion on a flavor of ice cream. Opinions don’t exist in vacuums; we evaluate them based on context: who’s saying it, what the overall discussion also involves, and history.”I fail to see how expressing an opinion in a controlled classroom setting would make like ‘miserable’ for any other kid.”It seems pretty easy to see how saying something about race, religion, or sexual orientation could affect other kids. Again, one opinion doesn’t have inherent moral equivalence to other opinions. Some opinions have a history of justifying violence are, necessarily, subject to more scrutiny. I’m saying this not from a legal perspective but from a moral one.”If anything, he risked becoming a victim of harassment himself by stating a minority opinion.”You think being opposed to homosexuality is a minority opinion in Fort Worth, TX?

          • Icewings27

            Point taken that perhaps anti-gay sentiment is more mainstream in TX than some other states. Although I’ve never been there so I can’t say for sure.

            I think you just got to the crux of the problem here when you said We need to evaluate opinions based on who is saying them, the context, history, etc. Exactly!

            This is what school is supposed to be for: Giving our kids a better understanding of our world and our place in it.

            Instead of taking the student’s blanket statement as an excellent opportunity for a discussion on the history and context of Christian anti-gay beliefs and the persecution of homosexuals, the teacher just basically told the kid to shut it and get the heck out. That didn’t teach anyone in the class anything, did it?

            Also, I can guarantee that someone somewhere has been murdered for not liking chocolate ice cream. We have to be careful about censoring opinions and assigning greater moral value to them. I support a person’s right to be racist, sexist, homophobic, whatever…I do NOT support a person abusing, ostracizing, intimidating etc. a person based on that prejudice. Do you see the difference?

  • Rich Wilson

    Not enough information.  The only thing I take from this is that there are three sides to every story.

    • Rich Wilson

      (oh, and if you think honor roll or football have any relevance to any of this, then you’re wearing privilege goggles)

  • PJB863

    When I read stuff like this, I have to consider the source of the information.  The Liberty Counsel, Alliance Defense Fund, and Thomas More Society are involved in this, so that alone makes it suspect in my book.  The fact that the Illinois Family Institute and Laurie Higgins picked up on it, pretty much confirms my suspicion that we’re probably not hearing the entire story.

    That being said, the student has the right to free speech, but it is not absolute in a school setting.  If this was a private conversation between he and another student, the teacher was off base, unless that conversation was disrupting the class.  If that was the case, an admonishment to stay on topic would have sufficed.  Given that this was a foreign language class,  however, the topic of sexuality does seem a bit off topic.

    There is likely more here than is being reported, so I’m going to wait and see what else comes to light before concluding anything.

    • Anonymous

      “If this was a private conversation between he and another student, the
      teacher was off base, unless that conversation was disrupting the class.”

      Not good enough. Almost all bullying can be termed a “private conversation”. Even if we grant that the incident happened exactly as reported, what if the other student (i.e. his friend) is gay? or another student within earshot (presumably he said it loud enough for even the teacher to hear).  Making bigoted comments about other students shouldn’t be tolerated. In class, outside of class, one on one, or in front of a group, it doesn’t matter.

      • PJB863

        Therein lies my suspicion.  By private conversation, I mean between two friends.  If this were the case, I would think a friend would know the student’s belief system well enough so that it wouldn’t need to be restated, especially in a German class.  There is a possibility, a strong one, that the student who was suspended was saying this to demean or intimidate or otherwise belittle another student, and that’s what’s not getting said in the press releases from the various religious right groups.  In their worldview, their right to preach and prostelytize  trumps everyone else’s right to be left alone/not bullied.

  • JustSayin’

    Regardless of how everything really went down, I just have to say that I get fucking sick of the way Christians will blatantly lie when not merely manipulating the truth, all in order to further their hate-filled agenda. Anti-marriage equality front groups like NOM are a perfect case in point, but the Xtian press snippets in this instance work equally well.

  • Anonymous

    The appropriate response would be to moderate the discussion, not to suspend people for stating certain opinions.

    The remedy to bad speech is more speech, not censorship.
    http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/354f1m/

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nele-Abels/1127827774 Nele Abels

    Homosexuality certainly is a relevant topic for German classes, since – talking as a German – it is relevant to our culture. We have the gay marriage, our foreign minister as well as the mayor of Berlin are openly gay and nobody over here gives a damn.

    Teaching young Americans, Christians or not, to shut the fuck up and get over with reality, can never be the wrong thing to do.

    • Anonymous

      Germany doesn’t have same-sex marriage. It has a form of domestic partnerships that give more rights than the French PACS, but less than the British Civil Partnerships. It’s not the legal equivalent of marriage.

    • Bob Becker

      “Teaching young Americans, Christians or not, to shut the fuck up.” 

      It’s attitudes like that, common on the Xian right as well, that make me very glad we have in this country the First Amendment establishing that it is not only not the job, but not the right of government at any level to “teach young Americans, Christian or not, to shut the fuck up.”  

  • Bob Becker

    Richard:  You wrote: I’ll say the unpopular thing right up front. There are gay students who get beaten up at the hands of school bullies and who have to deal with actual verbal abuse. What Ary said, if he actually said what’s being reported, doesn’t fall into those categories.”

    Why in the world would you think what you wrote would necessarily be the unpopular thing to say?   All you said was (a) gay kids get bullied both physically and verbally [a self-evident truth these days, sadly]  but (b) what Ary said didn’t constitute bullying for which he should be punished.

    Seems largely unexceptionable to me.   The kid’s free, in a free country, to hold whatever silly religious belief he or his parents find pleasing in their sight, and to say so [subject to the usual time/place/manner limits which do not seem to be involved here].

    I fear you may be spending too much time reading right wing Xian lit and so may be falling, however unintentionally, into their habit of claiming disagreement means they’re victims or claiming great courage [of the "I'll pray in my home and God help any atheist who tries to stop me!" variety]  without reason and for acts that require no courage at all.  

  • Nathan

    I couldn’t say whatever I wanted in High School. None of my rights were supported and I could and was punished for things that they didn’t like, or possibly offended them.

    I think students should have freedom of speech and be able to do the same things you do in college, as long as you aren’t actively disrupting a class.

    Although that’s not the case, so I don’t think a special case should be made for some kid spouting off bigoted statements.

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

    Am I the only one here with a sneaking suspicion that we’re not getting the whole story? ‘Cuz, uh, this doesn’t pass the sniff test.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

    Some of the comments on here are horrendous! Every person should have the right to their beliefs. If one person has the right to say that they think homosexuality is right/wrong then so does another person on the other side of the fence. Some, including the teacher, needs to stop taking this so personally. 

    If he had said, “I’m a Christian and I think sex before marriage is wrong” would that have been much different? Some people think its okay. Some don’t. Just like homosexuality. 

    I agree with Icewings. The teacher brought it up. Did he just expect everyone to nod and not say anything? Why did he even bring it up in the first place? As with ANY discussion, any mature person should be able to sit and listen to the other person’s point of view. 

    JoYavin, clearly you need a theology lesson and a Bible history course. I find it interesting that so many of the comments on here cry bigotry. Look at the definition please. Saying he has no right to stating his opinion, but the teacher and other students can state theirs, well, that’s bigotry as well.

    I’m concerned that the majority on here think that just b/c someone expressed a belief other than your own then that person is vile, evil and never had the right to talk in the first place. If that’s the country you want to live in, with no open dialogue then how will gay marriage ever be passed as law? You can’t expect an audience to listen to your beliefs without granting the same for someone with the opposing beliefs.

    I agree with the idea that the teacher missed a teaching moment. Instead he kinda looks whacky and authoritarian. There will never be a good discussion in that class b/c of the way things were handled. Iris wants a “safe place” for students. I guarantee no student feels safe to express their opinion in their until they here the teacher’s opinion and if his opinion just so happens to line up with their own. Then they MIGHT open up just a bit.

    • Bob Becker

      “I’m concerned that the majority on here think that just b/c someone expressed a belief other than your own then that person is vile, evil and never had the right to talk in the first place.”

      If you derived that as the majority opinion based on the comments above, then I don’t think you read the comments very carefully. 

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

        This was true at the time of my original posting. A few more have commented now. Saying to the effect that they don’t like what the student said, but that he has the right to say it. I’m cool with that. Just as I’m cool with the someone speaking about the opposite opinion too. They are beliefs and opinions. The teacher over reacted. 

        I agree with the student. But if one of my students (I am a teacher) said something that I didn’t agree with I might probe just a bit to get them to think their comment through. I do that with anyone just to see if it’s an honest, articulated original though or if they are simply repeating what someone has told them to believe. I try to get my students to think for themselves and become life-long independent learners. I want them all to be skeptics to a certain level regardless of what I believe. If asked I will volunteer my beliefs, but ONLY if I am asked. As a teacher, I understand that what I say can have a major influence on a student. I don’t want someone believing what I say of believing the opposite of what I say, just b/c it’s my beliefs. It normally doesn’t happen at my grade level (Jr/Sr level) but I’ve seen it happen at lower levels before. I’m sure it could happen anywhere!

  • Anonymous

    Well, as could be expected there is more to the story and the teacher couldn’t share his side so far. It seems the comment by the student may be part of a string of comments aimed at the teacher’s perceived sexuality.

    http://www.towleroad.com/2011/09/student-suspended-for-saying-homosexuality-is-wrong-video.html?cid=6a00d8341c730253ef015391de173d970b#comment-6a00d8341c730253ef015391de173d970b

    • Gus Snarp

      This is what I thought immediately. Set aside the supposed religious angle, set aside the fact that the topic was homosexuality, and lets just say it had to do with some rumor or opinion about the teacher that was considered insulting. Now keep the same words and change the tone, it goes something like this: the teacher describes some religion that is common in Germany, then some tenets of their belief. Asks students to do the same, speaking as a member of that group (probably in German). This student, turns in his seat and says to the student behind him, but loud enough to be heard by the entire class in a snide tone (and in English): I’m Pastafarian, I think being a stupid German teacher is wrong! It’s an incredibly disrespectful insult to the teacher and his authority in the classroom. It’s the kind of thing that automatically earned a suspension in my day. Make it a gay slur and it’s even worse. I don’t know if that’s how it went down, but it sure sounds right to me. Students do not have free speech in the classroom. They have the right to honestly voice their opinions in a classroom discussion, but that’s not what this sounds like. Even if it wasn’t snide, insulting, and disrespectful, it was talking out of turn. A student’s right to speak honestly in discussion is a right to speak to the class as a whole and in turn, not to turn around and have your own chat with the student behind you. Even if there was no insult, that’s a disciplinary issue. You aren’t allowed to have private conversations in the middle of class. Or has school changed dramatically in the last twenty years?

  • Mihangel apYrs

    I always apply the “colour” test – if you replace “gay” with “black” (within context),would the sentence or behaviour still be acceptable.  Both are innate, and if you choose to separate “homosexuality” from “homosexual behaviour” you’re starting on a slippery slope

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

      Those would be your thoughts. I don’t know for sure if homosexuality is innate or not. I lean to saying it is not. Many others do as well. I haven’t seen the genetic proof yet to know despite what the media would have us believe.

      • Rich Wilson

        Innate doesn’t require genetic.  And.  How do you feel about heterosexuality being innate?  Would it be possible for one to be innate and the other not?  Or do some people have a choice and others not?  

        But even then, it would seem ALL the choice-people choose homosexuality, since I’ve never heard of anyone who ‘chose’ heterosexuality.  Even those who say they have been cured through prayer had to work very hard at it.  Why is it that some people who have every reason to be straight, and struggle and fight against being gay, still end up gay?  Why would someone commit suicide rather than live gay?  Why not just ‘choose’ to be straight?e.g. http://rachelheldevans.com/ask-a-gay-christian-response

  • Gus Snarp

    I think the real issue is that this student spoke out of turn. When I went to school you weren’t allowed to have private conversations in the middle of class, you got punished for that. If you want to speak, you speak in turn and share it with the class, not just with your friend behind you. And I expect that the comment was delivered with a snide and insulting tone and meant to mock the teacher. Try that scene in your head, it plays much better if he’ delivering an insulting aside about the teacher than as a random, but somehow thoughtful, comment to the student behind him. And that fact is not in dispute, he was not participating in a classroom discussion, he was speaking out of turn to a single other student, something usually against the rules of classroom decorum, and that simply doesn’t make much sense unless he was mocking the teacher. His freedom of religion and speech do not extend to speaking out of turn or whispering to another student in class, much less to insulting a teacher during class.

  • Anonymous

    More details emerge. Turns out the student is part of a group of four who harassed the teacher all year long:
    http://www.dallasvoice.com/lgbt-groups-fort-worth-teacher-suspended-student-victim-anti-gay-harassment-1090417.html

    His account contradicts Ary and his lawyer’s version of events, and has been substantiated by several of the other students in class at the time. We found Mr. Franks’ explanation entirely credible. He reports (and has reported to his school) repeated acts of anti-gay harassment by several students that occurred this and last year, including by a group of four specific boys in this class, of whom Ary is one. Among other incidents, Mr. Franks maintains a “word wall” for his German IV class on which he posts articles and images from several journals, including the German magazine, Stern. One of these articles concerned gay rights in Germany, and included a photo of two men kissing. The group of four boys concerned was sitting near this image immediately before Mr. Franks found it had been ripped from the wall. The student and his lawyer are now asserting that including this photo among the others constituted his teacher’s “imposing acceptance of homosexuality” in his classroom. These students subsequently took every opportunity to denounce homosexuality in class, frequently without context; that is, with the topic having otherwise been broached.

    On the particular day in which this incident occurred, Mr. Franks was opening class when the topic of Christianity in Germany was broached by one student, who asked what churches were there, another whether they read the Bible in English, etc. Franks asserts that the topic of homosexuality was not broached in any way, and that Ary‘s assertions to the contrary are entirely false. At this point, Ary declared, with a class audience, “Gays can’t be Christians; homosexuality is wrong,” looking directly at Mr. Franks


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