A few days ago, I posted about a Christian student who said in his high school German class that “being a homosexual is wrong.” That student, Dakota Ary, was suspended after he said that when his teacher, Kristopher Franks, cited him in a disciplinary referral.
I defended Ary at the time, but noted that we were only hearing his side of the story…
Now, we’re starting to hear the teacher’s side.
The Dallas Voice reports what a spokesperson for a local LGBT rights says about the case:
The gist of these reports [in the media] is that Ary, during a discussion about religion and homosexuality in his first-year German class, expressed the opinion that “I am a Christian, and I believe that homosexuality is wrong,” and was subsequently sent out of class with a disciplinary referral by his teacher, Mr. Franks, and then given a three-day suspension from an assistant principal.
Concerned that only one side of the incident was being reported, we met Friday night with Mr. Franks. 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.
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. Franks says he understands and affirms students’ right to free speech, and that he is perfectly prepared to lead a respectful discussion on topics such as gay rights that allows for the assertion of opinions with which he disagrees. He has led such discussion in the past in his sociology classes. But in this case, [he] feels the context makes it clear that this remark was made ad hominem, aimed specifically at him to devalue him and any information he might share on the topic of religion, on the basis of his perceived sexual orientation.
Joe Jervis explains the significance of this revelation:
Read the entire linked article and you’ll learn what many of us already suspected — that the student in question has a long history of Christianity-fueled anti-gay misbehavior. Clearly, if the teacher’s story is true, the suspension was the inevitable result of a running pattern of harassment. The case has been trumpeted on virtually every Christianist site as evidence of rampant homofascism, but you can bet that the teacher’s side of the story will see zero attention.
No doubt more of this story is going to unravel over the next few days. I hope Mr. Franks is able to speak out a little more. I also hope the students in that classroom find the courage to do the right thing and share their own recollections of what really happened. This is more than just a miscommunication. While students have a right to their beliefs, they don’t have a right to harass teachers any more than they do other students.