Gay Oregon Teacher Reassigned to Teaching in Closet

Comments

1
"no one has asked me" would also work.
2
names and numbers please...i wanna bitch!
3
How can the district's actions possibly comply with their own anti-discrimination policy? Unless it is so weak that anything short of physically assaulting someone with a signed and notarized statement of homophobic intent can be classified as a response to poor "professional judgment".
4
And people scratch their heads wondering why it's so hard to find good teachers. Shocking. I mean with piss poor wages and school's that are hyper scared of every single irrational parent it's amazing anyone wants to teach.
5
Yeah, if a single het man answered "...Because I haven't found the right woman to love," I don't think there would have been a problem.
6
@1 Or "I haven't found the right person yet" (which works whether you're gay or straight). I think it's ridiculous what the district is doing, and it doesn't sound like (from what we know) the guy acted inappropriately. But... it seems to me, like, no matter what your situation (gay/straight, single/seriously dating someone), that question from a 4th grader should be answered with the minimum amount of personal information (unless you have an especially strong relationship with the student).
7
@5:

I don't think it would have been a problem, either, if he'd said something like, "Because I'm still having fun dating different women and don't want to settle down yet."
8
Fuck yes, Cienna. Of course we don't buy it. I hope that a million people call and complain because of your article.
9
@7 - Of course it would have been a problem. How dare he tell children explicitly that he's sleeping around? It's an outrage!
10
@6, I work at a before-and-after program at an elementary school. Up until March of last year, I was engaged to an FTM trans person. Kids ask questions non-stop, and would often ask me directly if my partner was a boy or a girl. I'd say both and try not to get too heavily engaged in the conversation. But lying isn't the appropriate response.

At the same time, we have multiple children in our school with gay and lesbian parents, and they'll soon know peers in middle school who are self-identifying as gay. Should we pretend that those other people exist in a vacuum, or should people learn at an early age that gays exist everywhere, and that they are normal people like everyone else.
11
@1, @6, @7, so, better to lie to kids than tell them the truth and let them know that gay people exist. got it.
12
(a) fuck the parents and fuck the spineless administrators
(b) This underlies the complete brain-fuck-dead ridiculousness of NOM et al's disingenuous "gay marriage will force the issue to come up in kindergarten" assertion. Real gay people live real gay lives today and being who you are isn't indoctrination.
13
Didn't we have a proposition in California over this - like, 20 or 30 years ago?
14
@11 --- Why only two choices? The world lives in shades of grey.

Some people don't need to know everything.

No one has any obligation to be a poster-person for a cause unless he wants to be.
15
@11: truthful evasions are not lies, and the alternative i offered may, in fact, be perfectly accurate, if not as forthcoming as this 23-year old's response. you don't have to tell kids everything just because they ask.

i was once asked by a 4th grader if i kissed my GF's boobs. should i have been honest and said "well, it's not kissing, really. she prefers that i tug gently with my teeth"?
16
I'm a straight man and when asked by students in my past life as a teacher about my marital status I've informed them that it wasn't a topic for discussion. Students don't need to know about your love life, no matter what your orientation.
17
@11. Um, no. Did I advocate lying? A straight person saying "I haven't met the right person yet" instead of "Well the girl that I wanted to marry cheated on me with another guy so I dumped her" is not lying. They are judiciously editing what personal information they share they a 4th grader.

I mean, if this guy has met the love of his life and really wants to get married, but can't, then, yes, it might be better to talk about that then to say he hasn't met the right person. I was just assuming that that was likely not the case with a 23-year old.

As I said, though, I don't think this guy acted in a way that would require sanctions. And, I believe if a straight person shared a similar level of information they wouldn't have been punished in this situation. I just tend to think that the teachers really shouldn't share very much personal information with 4th graders.

And, so I'm not accused of a gay/straight double standard here, one of my good friends is a 5th grade teachers, straight, married to a guy, and I think it's a little odd how much she shares about her husband with her students. It's not "inappropriate" in the slightest, but, just different from my expectations of teacher/student relationships. Her kids love her though, so she's clearly doing something right.
18
@14: I love that you used the "he shouldn't flaunt his lifestyle" argument.
19
How is this any more information than a het teacher getting married? When my second grade teacher got married I knew it was because she loved her husband and that she liked boys. This teacher said he loves boys but is not allowed to marry them. Same info.
20
4th grade...I think I was clamoring for PG-13 movies and begging for Stephen King novels by then. Maybe it was another year of so for the latter (the first being Different Seasons, then The Tommyknockers). I think we were already aware of boobies, and my friends were starting to obsess over the scantily-clad women on VHS boxes.

My point is that sexuality is already starting to become aware in the 4th graders' mind. But, most aren't aware of the politics of sexuality yet. Saying that you're not married because you "don't like girls in that way" is one thing...but, adding the "its illegal to marry" bit may go a bit further than necessary. There are ways to say you're gay without crossing the line, or turning the kids into political pawns.

I wonder what exactly this guy told the fourth-grader.
21
Guys, this is Beaverton. The folks, in general, are very welcoming, but the town's leadership? Uh, not so much.
22
@Cienna and for everyone, I'm not sure why the Portland Mercury's take on this wasn't included--it seems to contain more useful information than the Advocate article:

http://blogtown.portlandmercury.com/Blog…
23
@15,@11 It seems to me, "I am not married because I can't marry another man" is much closer to "no one asked me" than "well, it's not kissing, really" on the informational continuum.

Honestly, and I guess chalk me down as an indoctrinator, but I think we damage these kids more by failing to turn homosexuals from easily dismissed abstractions to actual people they have known.
24
@22: Yeah, the Advocate article seems a lot kinder than the reality of the situation, which is what appears to be a distinctly anti-gay group of folks that are slowly picking off GLBT and allied staffers.

Not clear on the context, but it sort of seems puzzling that the kid would probe so specifically and that they'd have a pretty solid set of responses for the "offended" parent.
25
@11 - When I was a teacher (middle school), I evaded personal questions all the time because I didn't feel the need to share my personal life (which is horribly boring and vanilla, but still...) with a bunch of children. There is nothing wrong with doing that, not to hide your orientation, or your kinks, or whatever, but because everyone on earth doesn't need to know who you are sleeping with and what you are doing together.

Max's alternative is a good one, as is Julie's. While I'm in this guy's court, and don't believe he said anything particularly heinous (such as "Because I like men, and I especially like it when stick their fingers in my butt"), but I think he made the mistake that many young teachers make, of being too honest.

Also, he is a teaching intern, or a student teacher. They didn't dismiss him from his program, just moved him to another school. That happens more than you might think for a variety of reasons. Probably won't impact his future professional opportunities at all.
26
"...he didn't reveal anything that any fourth-grader couldn't have discovered online or in a newspaper."

A fourth-grader can discover a donkey show online. What you can discover online is propbably not the best measure of appropriateness.
27
@16- You're different from my teachers. They all referred to their spouses all the time. Except that English teacher who had us read "Little Foxes" by Lillian Hellman.
28
@25, except that his name (somewhat unusual) and picture are now fairly easily Googled up. The master's degree improves his employability, though, and he probably would be better off anyway not teaching in an entity whose collective sphincter would clench at a description of this incident.
29
Small thing: One school district can't transfer a teacher to another school district. They're separate employers. The article said he was transfered to another school, presumably within the same district.
30
Gee, 20 comments until somebody trashed Beaverton? (Not that I disagree with Baconcat).

Cory @ 13: Yes, this does look like shades of Anita Bryant, doesn't it?
31
I'm reminded of a scene from the 80's movie "About Last Night" where Elizabeth Perkins plays a teacher who is trying to read a Christmas story to her class but keeps getting interrupted by questions that she tries to answer honestly...

"And then an angel of the Lord descended upon the Virgin Mary--"
- What's "descended"?
Came down from out of the sky. "And then an angel of the Lord descended upon the Virgin Mary ... "
- What's a virgin?
That is someone who's never had sex.
- What's sex?
Sex is how men and women make babies.
-Are you a virgin?
- No.
- So you have a baby?
No ... Men and women who don't want babies, also have sex.
- What for?
For about 10 or 15 minutes.

(The big shock to me in remembering this scene now, after many years, is that she probably wouldn't be telling this story in a public school now... But what can you do? This was bastardized Mamet in the 80's.)
32
@29 - He is a student teacher, not an employee. Schools - or even districts - can have a student teacher removed without any reason or justification. It happens a lot, sometimes because the student teacher doesn't get along with his/her cooperating teacher, sometimes because the school determines he/she isn't ready to be in a classroom, sometimes because their are cultural differences that can't be overcome.

However, as the article someone linked to above suggests, the school or district generally contacts the student teaching supervisor from the college before they take any action, so the supervisor can attempt to mediate the situation and prevent a removal. That apparently didn't happen in this case, which is not illegal but is a breach of protocol. It wouldn't surprise me if Lewis and Clark didn't send student teachers to that district in the future.
33
Thanks for clarifying, Sheryl.
34
The story pisses me off, but I think I'm with Mike (#16). Asking about a teacher's private, romantic life should be off-limits and met with a response like the one Mike gave.

I can't imagine ever asking my teachers about their bf/gf. It would have gotten a sharp response, "That's none of you business, young man! You should put that curiosity into your homework!" I would have been too humiliated to ever ask again.
35
#24 makes a good point about why the kid was asking such a specific question. According to the Mercury article, the parent of the kid who asked the question lodged a complaint about the teacher's response - AFTER filing a previous complaint about the teacher supposedly being dressed "inappropriately."

That makes me wonder if it was a set-up, if the parent put the kid up to it, got the response he/she was looking for and then complained. And while I agree with Julie that it's not appropriate to share a lot of personal information with fourth graders, regardless of whether you're gay or straight, the teacher's response seems appropriate to me.

I'd like to know how the school district thinks he should've responded to that question. By lying? Evading? What message would either of those send about being homosexual?
36
I agree, teachers should ensure their private lives are kept in absolute secrecy. This is why teachers should be banned from displaying family photos, wearing wedding rings, and allowing their kids to attend schools where they teach. Oh, and appearing anywhere in public with their spouse is also, of course, verboten.
37
@36 - That is, of course, exactly what everyone is saying. The world is binary, and there are only two choices in any situation: one extreme or the other.
38
@36 way to turn a very nuanced issue into a black and white discussion. Amazing powers of debate!

My students knew what make/model/color of car I drive. They knew what neighborhood I live in. They knew I have two brothers. They did not know who I was putting my penis in. Wedding rings and family photos are benign around fourth graders. Politically charged debates on sexual orientation and rights are not. Age-appropriateness is the key issue here. I once had a third grader ask me on the playground what gay means. Considering society's mixed viewpoints, I referred the child to his mother. If it had been a 6th grader in health class, my response would have been entirely different. There's a place and a time for everything.
39
@38. I find it creepy that you think telling kids who you're married to is tantamount to telling them something about your penis. It's not. It's telling them about your family and a very basic and social (as opposed to private) part of yourself. I tell my colleagues that I'm married. I don't tell them what I get up to in bed. See the difference?
40
I was being sarcastic, but it doesn't change the point that straight people reveal their sexuality in many ways on a daily basis, including to young children. Would a straight person have lost their job over stating the fact that gay marriage is illegal? Doubtful. He lost his job for saying he likes men, something his female coworkers likely announce (implicitly or explicitly) without hesitation or worry.
41
So it doesn't really matter how old you are at all... It only "Gets Better" when you @#$%ing leave school premises?
42
@40, my husband's favorite TMI from straight people is conversations about "trying to have a baby." Why do we want to know that they're having lots and lots of sex lately?
43
I can't imagine any intelligent person thinking that telling a student he's gay in Tea-Party land wouldn't come back to haunt him. Especially since he clearly knew that the parent of this kid had filed a previous complaint.

Good for him if he did it to make a statement. But if he didn't, and he's surprised by the result, he's a fucking moron.

I'm not saying it's right - but what did he expect? The parents to come to his house with a casserole? The school board to back him up? That would just be delusional.
44
@38 I don't think there's anything wrong with telling any child what gay is. Especially if you're in or near a city with a gay mayor, like Providence RI, Houston TX, or Portland OR.
45
Nothing short of discrimination. The school district that moved him should be sued. It's a State agency, right? Stambaugh's speech is protected under the First Amendment (i.e "I'm gay" or "gays are cool" or "gays freakin' ROCK, dude !"). By reprimanding and/or moving him, they violated his rights. SUE THE BASTARDS !!!
46
Age appropriateness? That's ridiculous. His answer was completely appropriate. My daughter is in fourth grade, and she was first told that "some boys want to marry other boys and that's just the way it is" about six years ago. It didn't freak her out then, and it doesn't now. She doesn't know any of the details, gay or straight, yet, AFAIK, but THAT'S age-appropriate for a little longer.
47
This is where we clearly see the "teaching homosexuality in schools" issue - we hear it as "giving explicit information about gay sex practices" but what they really mean is "admitting in schools that gay people even exist."

The crime was telling a fourth grader that there are gay people in the world and one was standing there for the kid to interact with. Period.

What they are saying is that there is NO age-appropriate way of acknowledging gay people in front of kids - and for some people, that age goes all the way up through high school.

While I agree it might have been more prudent to answer "Because I'm just not married" - especially as a student teacher - it still has to be acknowledged that it is not inappropriate to acknowledge the existence of gay people - nor to simply be willing to be known to be gay, in front of children of any age.

We recognize that parents have the right to teach their kids religion, but would anyone stand still if Christian parents ran a teacher out for simply stating that he was Jewish?
48
@45: First Amendment rights are not absolute in the workplace. Employers can and do define appropriate personal expression for employees all the time.
49
Not only that, but it's settled law that public employees have absolutely no first amendment rights while they're on the job. Really.
50
Kid: "Why don't you drink the school's chocolate milk?"
Teacher: "I'm Vegan. That's why I don't drink the dairy milk provided in public schools. Milk from cows is really meant for baby cows."

Kid: "Why do you wear a cross around your neck?"
Teacher: "I'm Catholic. This symbol represents my religion. I go to church every Sunday."

Kid: "Why is your skin darker than mine?"
Teacher : "My ancestors were from Africa. My grandpa traveled on a boat to the United States to be a slave."

Kid: "What does the USMC on your tattoo stand for?"
Teacher: "I was a soldier in the Marines. It stands for United States Marine Corps. We need to protect our country."

Kid: "Why are you bald?"
Teacher: "I have cancer and the medicine I take makes my hair fall out. I smoked for 10 years."

Seriously, folks. Kids ask questions. Why don't we use these opportunities to fill their minds with information instead of trying to shield them from it?

Donkey Show online? GMAFB.