A gay student teacher was dismissed from a suburban Portland, Oregon, school after discussing gay marriage with a fourth-grader. Seth Stambaugh is enrolled in the Master of Education program at Portland's Lewis and Clark College, the practicum of which had him student teaching at the Beaverton School District's Sexton Mountain elementary school. As reported by KGWNews:
He was leading a writing lesson when a fourth-grader asked him if he was married. Stambaugh said no. The student then asked why. Stambaugh replied that it would be illegal for him to get married because he would be choosing to marry another man. The student then asked if Stambaugh hanged out with guys and he said yes.
Stambaugh was told that his comments were inappropriate, and Lewis and Clark was told that Stambaugh would not be allowed to return.
Beaverton School District spokeswoman Maureen Wheeler said that the district honors diversity, including sexual orientation. Wheeler said she could not talk specifically about the conversation, but noted it took place with "a fourth-grader, and that's a nine-year-old."
"We do not discriminate," she said. The district has gay and lesbian employees and high school clubs that promote diversity, including sexual orientation, she said.
Sure. The district doesn't discriminate, it just seems to think that young children need to be protected from knowing about something against which it doesn't discriminate. Perhaps someone should ask Wheeler why the child's age seemed relevant.
According to The Oregonian:
It was based on "concerns about a conversation he had with a fourth-grade student," Wheeler said. "Our concerns were about the professional judgment and age appropriateness."
Perhaps someone should ask Wheeler if a male student teacher would be dismissed for discussing his interest in marrying a woman. Or would that also be considered lacking in professional judgment and age appropriateness?
KGW refers to a spokeswoman from Stambaugh's program at Lewis and Clark, who says it's not uncommon for a new student teacher not to fit a school district, but there are academic protocols for dealing with such circumstances.
What also happens before such a move is a discussion between the district, college officials and the student teacher, and that never happened in the Stambaugh case, she said.
Not that the Beaverton district was discriminating or anything, but rather than follow the usual procedure, it made a unilateral decision and only informed Lewis and Clark after Stambaugh had been removed.
Stambaugh's attorney says no lawsuit is planned, although his client's career was put at risk. The district's spokeswoman says their gay and lesbian employees have been wondering what will happen to them.
Wheeler said they were told that specifics of the Stambaugh case could not be discussed, and that they the are loved and welcomed. "We respect and value you as employees," was the message, Wheeler said.
Which sounds very reassuring. They're respected and valued just so they're kept closeted and segregated from nine year-olds.