Greg Fish has been teaching at Easley High School in Easley, South Carolina, for the last 16 years, but he recently resigned from his post after being suspended for a poem he wrote and shared with Advanced Placement (AP) Literature and Composition students.
The poem, which was passed around to students during a field trip Feb. 18-19, contained profanity and sexual themes, WYFF reported. It was handed out along with students' poems, and the students reportedly didn't know who the poems were written by.
Following the incident, Fish was suspended by the school on Feb. 22.
Although the entirety of the poem has not been released, School District spokesman John Eby told FOX Carolina that they’d received complaints over its content.
“To me, it didn't offend me," Sarah Price, a student who started a petition to reinstate Fish, told WYFF. "It's about a couple. It's not specifically directed. I've seen that it's been said that it's about an older man and younger woman and that's clearly not the case in the poem. So it did not affect me as these parents are describing it should affect their children.”
More than 3,000 people have signed Price’s petition as of March 1. According to the petition, students’ studies are being negatively impacted by Fish’s absence.
“[Fish] teaches AP Literature and the students in this class will struggle to prepare for the AP Exam without him," Price writes in the petition. "Not only his AP Literature students are suffering, but also his yearbook classes. With Mr. Fish gone there is no way to finish the yearbook without great cost penalties.
“ ... On top of those four classes, he also teaches English 3 Honors classes that are the basis for literature analysis that without him, will miss fundamentals of literature interpretation. Mr. Fish was not only a teacher to his students, but also a mentor.”
Some of the students have been wearing shirts that read “Fight For Fish” and have planned protests, FOX Carolina notes.
“[S]tudents will be expected to attend their classes and comport themselves in a respectful manner," Eby wrote in a statement. "We are aware that some students may be planning a 'sit-in' in response to this issue. The administration will handle any disruptions caused by a sit-in through normal procedures and policies.”
Fish’s wife, Robin Edwards Fish, asked students on to stop the fight, although they appreciate the support.
"This has become very detrimental to our family mentally, physically and emotionally!” she wrote on the Facebook page “Fight For Fish" on Feb. 29.
“We do not want anyone to risk their future or their college scholarships to fight this fight! We love each and every one of you regardless of the side you have taken.”
The sit-in has been canceled, but Fish said he was humbled by the response.
"The voices of my students are way more important than mine every could be,” he told WYFF.
Fish's controversial poem reads, in part:
On a grey winter morning,
I awoke tangled up with her.
I traced her ... all of her
She pulled me closer and whisper,
"I love you," in my ear.
"---- -- as hard as you can," she said.
The earth moved
To the passionate motion.
She cried a thousand tears
As she melted again.