Education

Teacher Suspended for Stopping Student's Anti-Gay Speech

| by The Volokh Conspiracy

By Eugene Volokh

From the Livingston (Mich.) Daily:

Howell Public Schools Superintendent Ron Wilson on Thursday said high school teacher Jay McDowell was disciplined [by being suspended for one day without pay] after it was determined McDowell violated a student’s First Amendment rights and significantly violated a district policy.

“The student was speaking out on being offended by the gay and lesbian lifestyle because it’s against his religion. The teacher said that wasn’t appropriate,” Wilson said.

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The student, 16-year-old junior Daniel Glowacki, was then ejected from McDowell’s economics class [and given a reprimand that would go on Glowacki’s permanent record], Wilson said, along with another student after Glowacki and McDowell argued about another student wearing a belt buckle featuring the Confederate Flag.

The district Oct. 20 was taking part in a national “Spirit Day” — a Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation event aimed to raise awareness of anti-gay bullying after the recent suicides of six gay teens across the United States who had been harassed. Students in support of the day wore purple T-shirts that read “Tyler’s Army,” for one of the six who died. Others wore shirts featuring a rainbow, which signifies gay pride.

Daniel Glowacki ... questioned why it was allowed for students to show their support for the gay community and not allowed for a student to wear her Confederate flag belt buckle.

[Wilson said,] “All the student was doing was voicing an opinion. The same thing would have been done had the student been on the other side. As superintendent, it’s my responsibility to foster fair, respectful treatment of all staff and students, and the teacher didn’t do that.”