But Who’ll School the Fool Buell?

Yesterday I posted a piece about Jerry Buell, the high school teacher in Lake County, Florida, who likens himself to “Jesus Christ himself,” and is proud to have written on his Facebook page that same-sex marriage is a “cesspool” that makes him want to puke.

This afternoon I heard from Equality Florida, who wanted me to see this letter, just out from Florida Rep. Scott Randolph. It’s directed to Debbie Stivender, Chair of the Lake County School Board.


My singular hope in posting what I did yesterday was that it would help bring about this precise result: pressure upon the Lake County School Board to implement some sort of anti-bullying protection, policy, or training for all its students and teachers.

And here we have it! (I’m hoping Lake County Schools will also implement a district-wide anti-bullying and sensitivity training program, but explicitly extending anti-bullying protections to include LGBTQ kids is certainly a crucial and much welcomed first step.)

Every time you share a story such as mine on Buell yesterday; every time you write and post such a story yourself; every time you leave a comment on a post such as yesterday’s so that observers can see how alive is the topic at hand; every time you contribute to a pertinent online forum, you—you!—help to bring about real, actual change.

Singularly, none of us can make much more than a peep. But together? Well, we roar.

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  • Win!

  • Scott


    As a believer who also happens to be gay, please let me extend my deepest gratitude to you for taking a stand for LGBT people everywhere. If I ever have the opportunity to meet you IRL, I’ll give you a big, warm bear hug; until then this will have to suffice. Thank you.


    P.S. I would love to have shared my story with you for your book, but life got in the way. I suppose it’s too late now, huh?

  • Hi, Scott; thanks for the love. I appreciate it very much. No, if you’ve got a story, send it in. I’m just now editing those.

  • That is good news. Love wins.

  • DR

    So proud of you!

  • Wesley Wes Thomas via Facebook

    Thanks for posting. I wish there was some petition that we could send to the school board. I’m a bit fearful of starting something like that, since they are my employers. :-/ Even kind of worried that just posting this comment could somehow have negative repercussions on my career.

  • melissa

    John, I actually started to cry when I read this. Wow. Sometimes I just get so discouraged at how cruel and horrible people can be toward one another, and then when they do it in the name of Jesus, I just want to scream (ok, and maybe punch them in the face :O). I have learned much about keeping the talk alive through you and your site. It is so important to just stay steady and stand strong. The instant that someone complains about “constant talk about this ‘gay’ stuff”, it causes me to hit it just a bit harder, as I know that these people are growing weary and just want the topic to go away. It will never go away, and I won’t let it. So, today we get a small victory. I exhale and smile, and realize that this is not for naught. Thank you for being the voice of reason, truth and kindness when all I want to do is, well, like I said, punch some faces. Happy Labor Day to you all. Peace out.


    PS For the record, I have never punched anyone, anywhere.

  • Mindy

    By providing a forum such as this, my friend, you give our singular voices the megaphone we need to make our roars heard. Thank you for that. May the school district heed the letter. And may Mr. Buell suck rocks.

  • Way to make me disturb my fellow Starbuckians by laughing aloud, Mindy!

  • Bless your heart, Melissa. thank you.

  • Could I do it without the bitchin techno-stuff you bought me, DR? No. Would I want to try? No. Can I wait until your NEXT gift? No. Does that mean you should send it to me right now without waiting another moment? No. I mean, YES!

  • Debbie

    As a Straight Catholic I want to thank you, too. No matter what our beliefs or gender orientation, the kids need to be protected. It’s hard enough getting through high school, navigating the sea of your peers. Let not the custodians of our children, the people to whom we hand over our young ones every day (and I hesitate to add ‘trust’) harass and betray their trust. The very people who are charged with teaching, guiding, and nurturing our children have the highest honor and most important job there is. Unfortunately, some use their position of influence for evil. I’m sorry if this is poorly written, but I can’t juggle these words around any longer.

  • DR

    Packing it up this weekend!!! I can’t wait!!!

  • I was going to comment on the previous post yesterday that bullies always win, because people are more interested in maintaining the status quo, silencing those who are already being made to feel small and insignificant by their bullies, and then believing that that silence means that there is peace and harmony.

    I’m glad that there are people standing up to this.

  • Don Whitt

    Love – zip. Their serve.

  • The bigot’s gonna lose his job. Do a little dance.

  • DR

    What I can’t understand about this is those of us who want this man out of a job don’t care that he posts what he wants to post on his Facebook. I care just as much about free speech as those of you supporting this man do, I want to be able to say he is a bigoted, frightening a&&hole if I want to and that all of you supporting him are either mentally ill or evil. That’s my right, I don’t want the government interfering with that.

    I want this man out of a job because he’s endorsing *violence* against people who are gay. I Do. Not. Care. if he has an opinion that being gay is bad or evil. I Do. Not. Care about that. He can opine away until his face is blue. Is everyone clear on that? If this is your “bedrock” belief, then believe away. I Do. Not. Care. That is your right and his to believe anything you want to.

    What I don’t want? Those of you like this man taking that belief into a classroom with gay children and saying things like “I believe that gays should serve in the military – on the front lines – and then we pull out.” Do you *understand* what damage that does to a gay kid? Can you comprehend that? That was said. It was a direct quote by this man. He doesn’t care if gay people get hurt. As a matter of fact he WANTS them to be hurt!

    Those of you rushing in with the intent to defend this man’s point of view need to start listening a lot more carefully and start parcing out the outrage a lot of us are feeling about this.

    You need to demonstrate the intellectual honesty that you ask of others, you need to acknowledge the issue by its own merits, there are two very specific points being offered here.

    1. Public schools contain children that are NOT Christian and those public schools are being funded by non-Christian parents. You as Christians aren’t contributing some kind of majority of taxes that gives us the right to have our religion infused into the public school curriculum. It is supposed to be non-religious as a result. Christian beliefs do not belong in their specific educational path. Just like you don’t want a Muslim teacher teaching your children that Jesus was a wonderful prophet but he wasn’t the Son of God. That is *exactly* the experience that non-Christian kids are receiving from Christian teachers and you all seem to endorse. But your children are being protected from religious indoctrination by these same regulations.

    2. This man has expressed a desire for gay people to be *hurt*. He doesn’t offer his thoughts on gay men and women without pejorative language. He is on record calling gay children “repulsive”, “scum” and “condemned by God”. These are CHILDREN. They do not have the cognitive abilities to process at a sophisticated level yet and yet, I watch some of you insist that he has the right to spew this kind of filth their way in a classroom and it shocks me.

    So please. Start listening, start putting your defenses down. None of these conspiracy theories of Christians being persecuted are coming true, what’s actually happening is that we as Christians have enjoyed a very intertwined Church and State experience for a very long time and people who are non-Christian are beginning to assert their rights in demanding that it stops. Which is very, very good for our faith, my friends. Jesus did not intend the Good News to become the House Religion of the US. That it is so deeply embedded in our government is a very bad thing. We’re being purified, not attacked. Please consider that.

  • That’s how Jim Crow flourished for nearly 100 years.

  • Diana A.

    This is exactly how I feel. The guy is entitled to his viewpoints but when he brings them into the classroom, he is being irresponsible. I would not want my child (if I had children) being taught by someone like that.

  • Emeth

    Hmm, I really like this. I was very confused, following this story, as to why there wasn’t general outrage about the very fact that this man was so obviously crossing the line as a professional public teacher as far as religious beliefs in the classroom. It’s been about a decade since I was in high school, but I can’t imagine any teacher like that making it more than one day – let alone becoming teacher of the year. The difference between New York and Florida, perhaps? I’m not sure.

    Anyway, as far as you can know another’s character through media reports, this man seems to be the type that couldn’t be trusted to keep his personal religous beliefs out of things even if the district DID require him to do that, and that brings up another thought – how can we possibly trust a board or administration to do right by this situation? Surely there must have been complaints along the way, from even just one child or parent?

    I guess I’m rambling, but I’m just so incensed that rational, professional humans could allow an environment that fostered and encouraged this man’s entitled, dangerous gospel-remade-in-his-own-image to become rule of law in a public school classroom.

    So I agree with DR – he can believe that, fine. But I think it’s so thoroughly wrong that he can teach it in this setting.

    Also, I’m very intrigued by this idea that non-Christians asserting their right to be free of American Christianity’s political tentacles as a purification. I think I really, really like that train of thought…

  • Eva

    Oh, I am SO relieved. This has been playing on my mind ever since you first wrote about it. I’ve also realised how proud I am of being a teacher in a school with 2 openly gay colleagues.

    You did good, John.


  • This is fantastic!

  • Don Rappe

    Very well said.

  • is it true what is said in another post on this wall, that Buell had “high praise — from GLBT students” ?

  • Erin D.

    I just can’t believe there are still school districts out there that *don’t* specifically list sexual orientation and identity in their anti-bullying policies. I am never, never, never, never never never moving out of my liberal stronghold school district!!!

  • Mindy

    You’re welcome. 🙂

  • This is also a church-state separation issue. I’m happy to hear that the ACLU and the Freedom From Religion Foundation are looking into this matter. Buell’s page on the school website extolled Christian dogma and his syllabi were scrawled with religionist imperialism. No teacher should be allowed to force that kind of nonsense upon impressionable children’s minds.