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SHOCK: Howell High School Says It Was Teacher Jay McDowell Who Started The Fight With Students

In the never-ending saga of Michigan high school teacher Jay McDowell — who removed a student from the classroom he claims was voicing anti-gay views — we learn that despite 14-year-old Graeme Taylor’s best efforts, the one-day-without-pay suspension stands, because McDowell violated the student’s First Amendment rights, and because he went crazy.

Two students kicked out of class claim economics teacher McDowell called them “racist” and launched into a furor, slamming doors and screaming while discussing their discipline in front of other students, relays the Livingston Daily Press. It was McDowell who instigated the entire situation, the school district claims in a report released yesterday, for asking Dan Glowacki — a 16-year-old student at Howell High School who raised objections to McDowell supporting purple tee-wearing students (he wore one himself that day) but taking offense at one student’s Confederate flag belt buckle — whether he he accepted gays. (Glowacki said no, because it went against his religion. McDowell allegedly responded that he should enroll in a Catholic school then.)

Statements from 12 of the 29 students in the class back up the district’s version of events, the report claims, saying McDowell followed the students into the hall to scream at them, calling them racists, and phoned an assistant principal in front of the class saying he didn’t want either kid returning. Superintendent Ron Wilson (pictured, right) says he’s releasing the report because “at this point, we feel compelled to respond with the facts as they have been presented to administration. With many other serious issues before us, it is time for this debate to end.” Moreover, says Wilson, McDowell is “not helping the district by going on TV talking about this issue. I’ve even gotten calls from California from people saying we should reverse our decision. I’m the CEO of the largest corporation in Livingston County. I don’t have the authority to deviate from board policy. This has really put (the district) in a bad light.”

And Wilson insists McDowell threatened the school with a media firestorm: “During one of the earlier meetings with Mr. McDowell regarding the disciplinary action, he threatened to bring a media frenzy upon the schools if the district’s decision was not reversed. He and his supporters have succeeded in painting our schools as having bigoted, racist and homophobic students, and the media has served as an unwitting partner. What started out as a disagreement over the expression of one’s beliefs has degraded into an unhealthy series of diatribes that paint our schools as dangerous places to work and learn.” Indeed, that’s the temperature of events over the past weeks as this story has grown.

McDowell maintains the allegations are “ridiculous” and has filed a complaint against the school; there is a hearing scheduled for next week. And as for the school’s claim that McDowell violated students’ right to free speech? When members of the class quizzed McDowell about their right to speak openly, he supposedly told them, “not in my classroom,” and would often refuse to let students speak their minds while he insisted on preaching his way of thinking.

This story has definitely evolved since it first went national, and it now appears McDowell isn’t the sympathetic figure even we believed him to be. And yet, despite the alleged screaming at students and inappropriate adult behavior, I can’t help but thinking: This is still a guy who doesn’t stand for homophobia and intolerance, and that can’t be a bad thing.

The report concludes student Glowacki was not exhibiting any bullying behavior — but McDowell was, and was thus “suspended for his own inappropriate actions — for bullying students because their beliefs differed from his own.”

By:           Max Simon
On:           Nov 18, 2010
Tagged: , , , , , ,

  • 63 Comments
    • Milo
      Milo

      When will teachers learn that they were hired to be mindless, sexless, and opinionless drones and nothing more? They forget this at their peril.

      Nov 18, 2010 at 2:27 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Michael
      Michael

      @Milo: Come on. The guy was just flat wrong. The kids displayed more maturity. Adding insult to his already poor situation, was this planned “media firestorm” nonsense. Clearly, McDowell is never going to recognize and admit his errors, but that Graeme kid and others are plenty young enough to learn.

      Nov 18, 2010 at 2:50 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      But their school DOES have bigoted, homophobic students.

      Trying to use your religeon as an excuse is unacceptable. The Mormon religeon said that blacks were inferior and were not worthy of being members of the church. (They changed this public stance around 1980 under massive amounts of bad P.R.)

      Would that give a Mormon back then the ability to say “I’m not a racist, I just don’t want to talk to blacks because my religeon says they’re inferior”

      No, of course, not, they would still be a bigot, just like those students are still homophobic bigots.

      What I find interesting is that 12 of the 29 students back up the distrcts version of what happened. By my count that means 17 of the 29 back up the teacher’s version. Why does the district assume that the 12 are telling the truth and that the 17 are lying?

      Nov 18, 2010 at 3:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • T-in-Cali
      T-in-Cali

      @Cam:
      the 12 of 29 students is what caught my eye.

      Thats not even a majority. Unfortunately with the ‘religion’ remark, many people will be behind the student. As long as you wrap your hate in religion, more people will be accepting of it.

      But wait, isn’t religion the reason the 9/11 attackers used?

      Nov 18, 2010 at 3:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Shouldn't certain gay sites & their commenters stop bullying gays too? ( John from England)
      Shouldn't certain gay sites & their commenters stop bullying gays too? ( John from England)

      @Michael:

      Are you mentally ill? You think these kids with neo Nazi parents who wear the confederate flag as a belt will learn?

      Look at your country Michael. Americans has the largest growing number of racists nuts in a Western country.

      Nov 18, 2010 at 3:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • scott ny'er
      scott ny'er

      Yep. The 12 of 29 caught my eye too. I want to know what the 17 other kids saw and reported.

      I like to get as much facts before I form an opinion. But, IDK, something doesn’t smell right here. I suppose it’s possible that McDowell was a bully but my gut is saying he wasn’t.

      Nov 18, 2010 at 4:01 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • wtf
      wtf

      @Michael: Obviously you haven’t read the entire story – the teacher was NOT wrong and a majority of the students support him. You should try better if you’re going to go around trolling for an argument.

      Nov 18, 2010 at 4:03 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      @Shouldn’t certain gay sites & their commenters stop bullying gays too? ( John from England):

      “”According to the British Crime Survey there were 280,000 racially motivated incidents/assaults in 1999. 98000 of these (ie 35%) were against Black, Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi people (who comprise 7%of the population). “”

      Yeah, you’re right, nothing racist going on in Merry Ole England.

      Nov 18, 2010 at 4:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Eugene
      Eugene

      12/29 supporting the school’s story doesn’t mean 17 supported Mcdowell’s. There may be more ambiguity to what really happened for some students to say that neither story was completely accurate.

      Nov 18, 2010 at 4:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Michael
      Michael

      @Shouldn’t certain gay sites & their commenters stop bullying gays too? ( John from England): You’re in England? You need look no further than beyond your front stoop. Your country has rapidly developed to be the extremist/racist capital of the Western World.

      Nov 18, 2010 at 4:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Michael
      Michael

      @wtf: Obviously, you are the one who did not read the story. How did you manage to miss Queerty’s view, not unlike mine…”and it now appears McDowell isn’t the sympathetic figure even we believed him to be.”

      Nov 18, 2010 at 4:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Red Meat
      Red Meat

      @Eugene: The point is, is it OK for a kid to walk in class and say he doesn’t like black people because he attends a white church? Why bother with the irrelevant.

      Nov 18, 2010 at 5:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DR
      DR

      And yet if this were a gay kid standing up for his beliefs against an allegedly homophobic teacher, you’d all be calling for the termination of the teacher’s employment.

      If there was no bullying (and it appears there was not), if the only thing one student did was wear a Confederate flag buckle (it appears that is the case, fact not in dispute), and all the young man did was voice his opposition to this particular day of activism, then the teacher throwing him out of class was out of line.

      We want students to engage in dialogue, but a certain segment of the community constantly demands thought policing and does not accept that some students will not agree.

      Free speech works both ways, and we have to take the good with the bad. Students don’t learn anything when you call them bigots because you don’t agree with their views.

      Nov 18, 2010 at 5:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kev C
      Kev C

      Jay is soft spoken and looks a bit like Tom Cruise. Oh please, Jay, don’t go righteous psycho on us. We’ll be good. Kids walking around on eggshells in Jay’s class, haha.

      Nov 18, 2010 at 7:03 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kieran
      Kieran

      If this school teacher required a student to remove a GLBT flag belt buckle in class, a lot of you would be demanding his scalp on a tray instead of a one-day suspension. Sounds like this teacher is getting off easy. It’s not (and should not be) a teacher’s job to decide what’s offensive for a student to wear and what isn’t. That would be a slippery slope here in America.

      Nov 18, 2010 at 7:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kev C
      Kev C

      The previous report by the administration was filled with inaccuracies, bordering on lies. And this report has also been disputed. The problem is that the adminstration doesn’t have any credibility.

      Nov 18, 2010 at 8:18 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Joe
      Joe

      Could the teacher have handled the situation better so as not to escilate the drama? Probably. But in a classroom setting it is NOT a democracy where everyone gets to ‘decide’ what is right and what is wrong. The fact is that the student wearing the confederate flag buckle and who said he didn’t like gays should have been allowed to stay in the class, but the teacher had EVERY right (and I would add, responsibility) to call him out on his prejudiced views. Ignorance is always coddled in the U.S.

      Nov 18, 2010 at 9:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • unclemike
      unclemike

      @Joe: Echoing you, Joe… This happened in a school. Courts have ruled time and again that students do not have 100% freedom of speech in school, just like they don’t have 100% freedom from searches in schools.

      Teachers do not have to allow their students freedom of speech. It’s that simple. If a student is being disruptive, their freedom of speech will most definitely be curbed and they will be removed from the room.

      Whether the teacher was justified in this instance is debatable. But i’ve kicked kids out of my classroom before for saying stupid shit–if they had brought up their freedom of speech, I would remind them, as I always do: “This room is not a democracy–it’s a benevolent dictatorship.”

      Nov 18, 2010 at 10:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ATNNT
      ATNNT

      McDowell MIGHT be one of those politically-correct loons, or he might not be. Unless one has been there in that school it’s hard to say.

      Nov 18, 2010 at 10:41 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Corvy
      Corvy

      Seriously, the guy was bad. Coincidentally, in this country 9UK) the teacher has a duty to make sure homophobic things aren’t said in class, as well as racist, sexist, religiously intolerant and disablist things. If the country said it was unacceptable in classrooms, then the pupil wouldn’t have said it, that being said, teachers should not behave in this manner anywhere.

      Nov 19, 2010 at 2:31 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mike
      Mike

      Does it make me kinda happy we have a supportive ally? You bet, but as a teacher the situation could have been handled in a forum of discussion rather than a screaming match, if thats even what happened ( I don’t know, I wasn’t there)

      The student voiced his opinion, it’s not like he continued to swear, destroy the classroom while using every homophobic slurr on the book. People don’t have to like us, if their respectful and let you do your own thing, I don’t see the issue with an individual not agreeing with who I sleep.

      From what I’ve read in the prior comments on this article I’m reading “the teacher had the right to”, “clearly he’s not in the wrong” yada yada yada. If it had been a teacher saying I don’t agree or believe that being gay is right, everyone on this page would be having a bitchfit right now.

      It bears repeating: Shoving our beliefs down the throats of others is as bad as the opponents of the LGBT community. Just because you criticize people’s differing opinions and stamp it with a TOLERANCE sticker, doesn’t justify your actions.

      (Bring on the crudely constructed comments while taking potshots at my opinion)

      Nov 19, 2010 at 4:27 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ?
      ?

      @Milo:

      What an unbelievably stupid response. You say what you say merely because you disagree with the outcome. You are incapable of actually thinking. Idiot.

      Nov 19, 2010 at 5:07 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kev C
      Kev C

      Since this is becoming a battle royale, we should get some stats on the players.

      - Jay McDowell is a 9 year teacher at Howell and has the support of the teacher’s union, whom he is the head of.

      - Superintendent Ron Wilson has been on the job for 7 months and is from out of town.

      - Jay McDowell is a civil rights advocate and has the support of (awesome) gay and black students.

      - Superintendent Ron Wilson is a christian conservative and has the support of racists and homophobes.

      - Jay McDowell is smart and cool.

      - Superintendent Ron Wilson is a flake and a tool.

      Pick your sides.

      Nov 19, 2010 at 5:43 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Andreusz
      Andreusz

      @DR: Agree whole-heartedly.

      Nov 19, 2010 at 6:36 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • pazmateo
      pazmateo

      I’m from Pinckney, which is about 10 minutes away from Howell, and I can safely say that Howell is in fact full of homophobes. This is the same town mind you that holds a special KKK memorabilia auction every year at the old opera house…..yeah.

      Nov 19, 2010 at 9:47 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      Ditto Kev C and Pazmateao. and Kev C even if the superintendent was not a right wing Christian, management always always tries to portray itself in control and it is in management’s interest to make the nonconformist pay.

      If people in general had guts we would know what the other 17 students had to say as well as McDowell’s fellow teachers. Without HARD FACTS to the contrary, I’m on McDowell’s side. It should be obvious to anyone thinking that taking an unpopular stance (to defend minorities, especially Gays) makes the majority bristle.

      And yes, Howell does have a KKK memorabilia auction annually. What does that tell you?

      Nov 19, 2010 at 2:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Disgusted Gay American
      Disgusted Gay American

      Fuck Michigan – ita a class A – anti-gay state……dont waste your time or money there

      Nov 19, 2010 at 4:48 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jonathan
      Jonathan

      As a university professor whose life has been so enriched by the thousands of students from all over the world whom I’ve had the privilege of working with, I am appalled not only by the story, but by the “well-just-screw-the-kids-and-F**k-Michigan-while-your at-it” tone of postings. Whether a student is rich or poor, gay or straight, Christian, Muslim, or Jew, conservative or liberal, the role of a teacher must be taken with a sense of duty to be a role model. If this man did as he’s being accused and indeed went ape-shit on a bunch of teenagers in a high school, he is an utter disgrace.

      For the gay community, pick your heroes carefully. In that classroom, his first responsibility is to those children and last on the list is his personal agenda. If its really true, this guy’s a Class-A nut job and I imagine he’ll be getting his own reality shown soon!

      Maybe he should try out for the “A-List New York” show! LOL :-)

      Nov 19, 2010 at 7:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jonathan
      Jonathan

      As a university professor whose life has been so enriched by the thousands of students from all over the world I’ve had the privilege of working with, I am appalled not only by the story, but by the “well-just-screw-the-kids-and-F**k-Michigan-while-your at-it” tone of some postings.

      Whether a student is rich or poor, gay or straight, Christian, Muslim, or Jew, conservative or liberal, the role of a teacher must be taken with a sense of duty to be a role model. If this man did as he’s being accused and indeed went ape-shit on a bunch of teenagers in a high school, he is an utter disgrace.

      Maybe he should try out for the “A-List New York” show!

      He’d fit right in!!

      LOL :-)

      Nov 19, 2010 at 7:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Brian Miller
      Brian Miller

      I’m not really interested in the “he said, she said” stuff. Clearly, someone is lying.

      I’m more interested in the ridiculous notion that school districts “support First Amendment rights of students.” If the student in question declared his secular atheism and communicated the view that homophobic Christian students are ignorant and racist, and was thrown out as a result, this wouldn’t even be an issue.

      Ultimately, it underscores why public education is such a farce.

      Nov 19, 2010 at 10:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Slaven
      Slaven

      Well,at least the teacher is very hot… It’s so great that teachers in the US are hot, at least if they are boring you can look at something pleasant… In Europe teachers are old,ugly grandpas or grandmas, whose only life goal is to make kids look stupid…

      Nov 19, 2010 at 11:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      Jonathan, you cover yourself by saying “if” the teacher did what he was accused of…but why do you go on to write how appalled you are by the story and what the teacher’s punishment should be and ignore the “what if” question that the school board may be guilty of harrassing the teacher because he is the teacher’s union president?

      Why only consider the possibility the teacher is wrong?

      I did a web search on the topic today – there is a very interesting link put out by the Livingston Press (not sure the exact name, but Livingston is the county Howell is in) anyway, they had the press releases of the teacher’s union and the school board and they also had two letters, one from each of two prominent businessmen “urging that this negative portrayal of Howell, schools and citizenry be stopped” etc.

      What the F**k do they know? Neither were there to witness what happened. The union statement mentioned the teacher himself suggested that ALL 29 students be required to submit a statement, not just the 12 who statements made the teacher look bad. Uh, is it possible the 12 had bad grades and an axe to grind against the teacher? Like that NEVER happens?

      All you anti teacher folks need to remember YOUR head may be on the chopping block some day and I hope you get more fair treatment than you’re giving Mr. McDowell.

      I repeat – in the absence of HARD FACTS to the contrary, I fully support Mr. McDowell.

      Nov 20, 2010 at 12:39 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      Oh, and to echo a comment Kev made way up about “board reports bordering on lies” – the union statement says that initially the superintendent said the student & the teacher’s statements were essentially the same and now they are completely different; and the union was not notified of the upcoming hearing.

      I’ve seen this same tactic by management over and over. However, to be fair, I did say that I only support the teacher if there are no HARD FACTS against him. I will chime in against him if he really did what he is accused of.

      Nov 20, 2010 at 12:59 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jimstoic
      jimstoic

      If you don’t say homophobic things, it’s more difficult to be portrayed as homophobic. Also, the school district’s position isn’t even supported by the majority of the students who were there.

      Nov 21, 2010 at 5:11 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • 1014
      1014

      That’s just plain not true. That happened one time and it caused a massive uproar. I don’t know where you live, but I live in Howell.

      Nov 21, 2010 at 6:02 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Joe
      Joe

      Once again; its this namby-pamby “all views should be respected” attitude that has allowed the American educational system to be seen as a joke. The teacher (if he actually did) should NOT have gone ape-shit and get into a yelling match with the student. HOWEVER… he was absolutely right in correcting the student and in NOT allowing this student’s homophobia to go unchecked. All opinions are NOT equal. Put it this way; if he were a science teacher and some kids said the world is flat and others said the world is round, we would NOT want the teacher to come out with “Well, okay kiddies, you have your views and science has its views and all views are equally valid and respected here in the Class of Lets Get Along”

      Nov 21, 2010 at 10:00 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DR
      DR

      @Joe:

      There’s no way to have a successful dialogue by simply calling everyone who doesn’t support the community a “bigot”. Civil dissent must be tolerated in an educational system, and the fact that people refuse to acknowledge that is scary as hell. Kids are there to learn critical thinking, and sometimes that critical thinking means they have the right to say they don’t agree with x,y,or z. Sanitizing the educational system to ensure there is no ability to dissent from a teacher’s views ensures that the school becomes the bully pulpit.

      Nov 21, 2010 at 2:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Michael
      Michael

      Why don’t we, for once, go as far to maybe just pretend that the story is true, and the teacher is at fault. Not that it could possibly be, but, stay with me here, since that is the story, although we all know it must be a complete homophobic fabrication, because there is no other explanation. Should this teacher get fired? Is he a good role model for kids? I can tell you one thing for certain. If this happened in a private school, the teacher would have been immediately shown the door, and would find his best hope of continuing to teach would only be in public education.

      Nov 21, 2010 at 5:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ronbo
      Ronbo

      Since when have classrooms been free-form opinion sit-ins? Are schools places where opinions are released like farts … to give everyone the right to stink up the joint?

      In my classroom experience, you listened and raised your hand tp ask questions. Period. There was no airing of grievances, opinions or religious though. It is no wonder that we have such a shortage of logic and reason.

      Nov 21, 2010 at 5:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kev C
      Kev C

      Have to agree with Ronbo 100%.

      The student, Daniel Glowacki said this in an interview:

      “I said a purple shirt would represent discrimination against me because I’m a Catholic and that’s against my religion.”

      So purple shirts are against his religion and cause him to feel persecuted. Tard.

      Nov 21, 2010 at 8:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Todd V
      Todd V

      If the author of this article would have read all of the student statements instead of just the cherry-picked evidence that The Livingston Daily newspaper used in its vendetta against the teacher and the teacher’s union they would see that the negative evidence was mainly taken from 1 student account. There are equally supportive accounts available online at the paper’s site. And most are somewhere in between. Given varied accounts by students doesn’t a school board usually support a teacher instead of throwing them under the bus. Yes, unless he is head of the teacher’s union.

      http://www.livingstondaily.com/article/20101118/NEWS01/101118001/Howell-schools-Teacher-ignited-controversial-exchange-with-student-statements-

      I personally know Jay McDowell. He has a master’s degree in world religion, he is a progressive liberal who is anti-racist,anti-homophobic and anti-bullying. He may have not handled this situation in aperfect manner, but I assure you he did not scream at these children that they were racists. Wouldn’t almost every student account bear that out if that was the case? that would be pretty hard to miss. Yet only 1 student claimed that was what happened. This article should print a revision or a retraction for engaging in poor fact-checking before it publishes what could be considered libel.

      Nov 22, 2010 at 12:12 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Todd V
      Todd V

      @Cam:

      it’s not correct at all that 12 of the 29 students back the administration. they took 12 statements. 1 backs the administration, 1 backs the teacher and the rest are somewhere in between. they are all online at:

      http://www.livingstondaily.com/article/20101118/NEWS01/101118001/Howell-schools-Teacher-ignited-controversial-exchange-with-student-statements-

      read the statements and you will see that the livingston daily article cherry-picked the worst possible picture of the teacher – not an honest evaluation of the evidence.

      Nov 22, 2010 at 12:18 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Seru
      Seru

      @Todd V:

      And theres only 5 statements in that pdf, earlier there was 6, but the last one was retracted because it was a statement typed up a week ago. People need to stop taking the livingstondaily at face value and read the statements. We also need the rest of the 12 statements.

      Nov 22, 2010 at 1:06 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kev C
      Kev C

      @Todd V: It appears to me that the district administration (Wilson, Moran, etc) are the ones trying to bust the teachers union. The admin interviewed the kids. They released the interviews to the press. As I understand, the teachers union had to file an FOI just to see all the interviews, unedited because the administration refused to give them to the teachers.

      Ron Wilson = carpet bagging, union busting, political hack.

      Nov 22, 2010 at 6:18 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      #42 Todd V, I read all the statements too and many them were kinda the student’s personal opinion on the SUBJECT and not a very objective story of what happened. I am almost positive only one of the 12 mentioned yelling and slamming of doors. Interesting since that it a hallmark of the schoolboards’ position against the teacher.

      I won’t analyze all the statements, but they were surprisingly poorly written for what I would expect of 11th graders in an economics class. But what I wanted to say is what constitutes “yelling” is often very subjective. Many people feel loud talking is “yelling” at them if it is something they don’t want to hear.

      Nov 22, 2010 at 2:52 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dors
      Dors

      McDowell is one of the most passionate and genius teachers I have ever had. I went to Howell high school and had him for government. He is a very opinionated and educated man. A students right to free speech is not entirely upheld in the public school system. Students are “not allowed” to voice and push their opinions on religion on other student by openly stating their beliefs and disbeliefs in class. Why should they be allowed to voice their beliefs/opinions on sexual orientation??? The public school administration has always been afraid of the popular, well liked, and highly educated (not aware of McDowell’s education history, but from what I witnessed, he is very well educated, whether it be from schooling or his life experiences) teachers because they pose as a threat to them. Of course he didn’t yell at them and tell them they were racist. Jay McDowell is a very professional man. Why would only one kid come out and say that this occurred? I feel the suspension without pay is rubbish and that if you aren’t “allowed” in a public school system, to express hate or dislike of a religion, or spiritual belief, you should not be “allowed” to openly voice hate against gays. It’s not so much having these views is the wrong done here, it’s just that these words of hate expressed openly in a public school setting is just plain sad. People would be outraged if someone came into a classroom and said aloud “i hate Christians”…fine if you aren’t Christian, thats not the point. Its that whoever the gay children in that room when that statement is spoken, or the Christian children hearing these remarks, are being harmed and harassed because of their own private beliefs. That is what really makes me sad. I think McDowell was brave to stand up for those kids.

      Nov 22, 2010 at 8:59 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • manic
      manic

      The LGBT folks are just being used by the teacher union;

      - Graeme Taylor’s dad is a teacher union negotiator in a neighboring school district
      - Just happened to be at a board meeting the same day as the head of the Michigan teacher union Iris Salters and 10 others
      - Matt and Phil Letten fit the bill as small time activists / recent college grads chasing causes of all types – vegan, atheist, Ron Paul, Prop 8 – who are easy for the union to manipulate – check the activism handbooks where they talk about surrogates.

      Whatever happened that day – and McDowell admits to being ‘visibly angry’, Kaplan (ACLU) says kids shouldn’t have been kicked out, kids talk about extended discussion on diversity and 10 minute video on bullying, McDowell talking about disciplining kids on phone with asst principal in front of class – it doesn’t fit the bill as a hero moment.

      Nov 23, 2010 at 4:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kev C
      Kev C

      @manic: Actually it is heroic. Jay took a stand against racism and homophobia in his classroom. We need more teachers who create the proper atmosphere for learning.

      And what is the administration doing about the real problems of racism, homophobia and bullying occurring in their schools? Not a damn thing. If the administration can’t do it’s job of creating a safe learning environment for all, it needs to be replaced.

      Nov 24, 2010 at 4:54 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DR
      DR

      @Kev C:

      What stand?!? He was teaching an economics class, told a girl who, by all accounts didn’t say a damn word about anything, to take off her belt because he found it offensive and then tossed another kid out of class for not agreeing with the teacher’s political views.

      That’s not heroism, it’s politically correct thuggery.

      Nov 24, 2010 at 8:24 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kev C
      Kev C

      @DR: Schools in Mississippi have banned the Confederate Flag, but in Howell Michigan it’s free speech? Bull!

      Oh wait, students at this school tore down a gay flag hung by teachers and students a few years ago because they were offended by it!

      Last year, 30 or so students at this school formed an online hate group. Even using school computers to post to it.

      What kind of school tolerates this BS? And what are schools doing to stop it? The administration doesn’t have any answers. And DR doesn’t have any answers.

      Nov 24, 2010 at 8:43 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • manic
      manic

      KEVC -

      As a gay person, you can like McDowell for what he did. The other things you mention have nothing to do with THIS ISSUE.

      Some things to chew on;

      McDowell’s position is not supported by the Diversity Council in Livingston County because it doesn’t have merit as a gay rights issue.

      The ACLU say McDowell was wrong to kick the kid out of class.

      Instead of credible orgs, the smear effort has been fronted by a couple of small time activists who’ve been chasing causes for years and are easy for the more sophisticated teacher union folks to manipulate as surrogates.

      Before you throw your cred behind this bs, think about it. It’s nothing but a teacher union run sham.

      Nov 24, 2010 at 1:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      Manic – Since none of us know for sure 100% what happened you may be right.

      However, maybe you should chew on some salient points written here.

      Only one of the student statements said the teacher yelled. And we dont’ have statements from a dozen or so other students. We don’t know the context of how those statements were collected. We don’t know what if anything the students were told what would happen with the statements and if they would remain anonymous. If it is all such a sham by the union, why did said union have to FOIA the schoolboard to get the statements? Sounds like the sham is on the part of the board.

      Not only that, you cannot lightly dismiss the fact McDowell has lived in the community for at least 9 years, possibly his whole life where the superintendent came from out of town and has only been here 7 months.

      Let’s also not forget the annual KKK auction. That says a lot about community attitudes.

      I’m still waiting on hard facts against the teacher and I don’t see any yet.

      Nov 24, 2010 at 6:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kev C
      Kev C

      @manic: Listen, teachers are supposed to be given leeway in their curriculum and how they run their class. As one teacher at the meeting (with Graeme Taylor, et al) said, the cirriculum is mostly social sciences .. preparing students for the real world. And it’s true. Remember high school? You walk into a classroom and you better respect the teacher. It’s their classroom. Daniel Glowacki didn’t respect Jay McDowell because the teacher was wearing a purple shirt!

      Nov 24, 2010 at 8:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      Kev C – how old are you? I’m asking re “respect the teacher” comment. You’ve been awesome up to now but I don’t think most of today’s parents think of it as “the teacher’s classroom.” Everything lately seems to be customer service driven, which is not always right, but what to do?

      Nov 24, 2010 at 11:54 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kev C
      Kev C

      @Jaroslaw: You’re right, schools aren’t courtrooms. Judges demand respect. Maybe they should take this case to court.

      First they suspended Jay McDowell, and then they looked for evidence to support the suspension. Cart before horse. Try that in court.

      Nov 25, 2010 at 6:31 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DR
      DR

      @Kev C:

      Kev C, for no reason other than his own agenda, he demanded a female student, who until that point did nothing by all accounts, remove her belt buckle, and when he was questioned about it, he got an answer he didn’t like.

      Absent ANY indication that she was engaging in any disruption, there is absolutely no basis to claim that the mere presence of a confederate flag belt buckle is per se disruptive. And there absent the use of foul or disruptive language, the mere disagreement with Spirit Day or the presence of a rainbow flag or a purple shirt is not per se disruptive.

      Get over it. Schools are not there to turn children into mindless drones incapable of expressing any thought except that which is PC-Approved.

      Those are answers, you just don’t like to hear them because that would ruin the whole concept of GLBT victimhood!

      Nov 25, 2010 at 7:56 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kev C
      Kev C

      Displaying symbols associated with hate (this does not include rainbow flags or purple shirts) produces the expectation of disrtuption.

      The expectation of disruption is proven by the fact that the class was disrupted.

      Sure, everyone with Tourette’s Syndome has free speech, but they can’t disrupt normal society because of their uncontrolled spasms of vulgarity.

      Jay could have handled it better, ie: “Oh you’re a racist? Racists are special needs children and belong in special classes.”

      Nov 25, 2010 at 9:43 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DR
      DR

      @Kev C:

      Not every person who displays the confederate flag is a racist. Lynard Skynard, you calling them racist? Pantera? The Dukes of Hazard?

      The disruption in this case was caused by a teacher who decided to call out a child in an economics class, not by virtue of anything the child wearing the belt did wrong. The disruption in this case was the direct result of the inappropriate handling of the situation by the teacher, who should have known better.

      Guaranteed had the teacher not acted inappropriately, no one would have even realized the girl had the belt on, and certainly the boy wouldn’t have spoken up in her defense.

      Any disruption caused was totally the fault of the adult, who, like you, makes broad assumptions which may or may not be correct. But it’s so much easier to demonize than discuss, I guess.

      Nov 25, 2010 at 11:16 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kev C
      Kev C

      @DR: “Not every person who displays the confederate flag is a racist.”

      That’s why I suggest they be sent to special education classes, because they’re obviously uneducated.

      What sort of jobs can these Michigan Rebels get when/if they graduate? Gas attendant, auto-mechanic, NASCAR racer, WWE Wrestler, roadie for Kid Rock?

      Special education classes.

      Nov 25, 2010 at 12:00 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      Kev C – where did I say anything about court rooms?

      Nov 25, 2010 at 12:12 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CiCi
      CiCi

      I guess that’s just another reason I can’t sell my house in Howell. Had a freshman suicidal over being bullied ,got the help needed and moved but not b4 a girl got beat to a pulp by 6 girls and hunks and I do mean hunks of hair pulled out of her scalp. Never sold the house and 3yrs later had to move back and my kids say its pathetic and embarrassing to say where they go to school. “Get me out of this place you have no clue what goes on there.” is what they say. and now this national News is what I come back to.
      Its no wonder I can’t sell this place.

      Feb 28, 2011 at 6:00 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • you're all too quick to judge
      you're all too quick to judge

      This is such bullshit. I went to this school, and it’s not that bad. People make Howell out to be like it is a shit hole, but it’s not. Mr. McDowell is a great guy, but what he did was wrong. he likes to say he encourages debate, but he is too wrapped up in his own views to be openminded to others. He should have kicked him out…plain and simple. work through it, talk through it. The kid made a valid point about having LGBT rights and activism shoved down their throats. If kids can support gay rights, others should be able to wear a confederate belt buckle. It’s a give and take. People need to accept differing view points and allow EVERYONE to support THEIR OWN view points, whether you personally agree or not. Mr. McDowell needs to learn that. Again, he’s a great guy and a decent teacher, i know, i had him. but he was out of line in this situation. The Graeme kid went on Ellen and told the situation all wrong. He misrepresented my town and high school, and for that I don’t like him…not because he’s gay.

      May 15, 2012 at 12:24 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Howell High Alumni
      Howell High Alumni

      @DR: completely agree.

      May 15, 2012 at 12:25 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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