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There Are Repercussions When Teachers Make Fun of a High School Student’s Sexuality

OBVIOUSLY … Teachers joking about a student’s sexuality is actually not amusing! “The Anoka-Hennepin School District has agreed to pay a $25,000 settlement to the family of a high school junior after two teachers harassed the boy and subjected him to classroom jokes, comments and innuendos concerning his perceived sexual orientation. The boy’s ‘fence swings both ways,’ teacher Diane Cleveland commented during a class in the 2007-2008 school year, according to an investigation by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. When the boy wrote a report on Ben Franklin, Cleveland allegedly said before the entire class that the boy had a ‘thing for older men.’ Another teacher, Walter Filson, said in front of other students that the boy ‘enjoys wearing women’s clothes.’”

By:           editor editor
On:           Aug 13, 2009
Tagged: , , , , , ,

  • 34 Comments
    • galefan2004
      galefan2004

      This reminds me of a teacher I had in either 7th or 8th grade that came right out and said that the word gay had been bastardized by people that were less than human and that they had taken such a beautiful word that originally meant “happy” and twisted it around. Hell, that teacher is probably still teaching in that school.

      Aug 13, 2009 at 2:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • sam
      sam

      $25,000? $250k to $2.5 Million would really put the fear of God into schools.

      Sadly, the teachers seemed to have not faced any substantial disciplinary action. :-(

      Aug 13, 2009 at 2:54 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ryan
      Ryan

      I am a teacher and a board member for the PTSO in my district. I guarantee you, if any student at my school told me he or she was harassed by a teacher for perceived sexual orientation (it’s well known I’m the “gay teacher” at school) I would not rest until that teacher was fired. We are to create welcoming and safe environments for our students. The fact that the teachers were the aggressors, and even validated other students to do the same, is illegal. 25,000 dollars is a sham. Furthermore, those two teachers should be terminated immediately. The superintendent claims that we must judge teachers on their body of work. The moment a teacher proves he or she is not professional enough to do his or her job, and would go so far as to taunt a pupil in the same way a bully would…that is grounds for dismissal. I cannot believe this student had to switch schools over this situation. If I taught in Minnesota rather than Hawaii, I would be fighting this thing to the death. I am incredibly furious over this situation.

      Aug 13, 2009 at 3:00 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • galefan2004
      galefan2004

      @Ryan: Actually, it completely and utterly depends on the state you live in rather it is illegal or not. In many states simply saying you are a gay teacher is enough to get you fired. That has happened countless times in Ohio.

      Also, this is what will piss everyone off but as usual I simply don’t give a fuck, we are going to hear much worse our whole fucking lives. If you can’t develop a skin that is thick enough to deal with the drama given you then you are going to eventually suffer because of it.

      I’ve been called everything from a disease carrying faggot to a poor lost sole. I’ve been told that I’m going to burn in hell. Others have had much worse happen. The problem is, in real life, you don’t get to sue everyone that calls you such things. You normally don’t get to sue them even if you are working for them. When I was growing up we were taught to overlook words. Now we sue for them. When I was growing up we were taught to respect our teachers even if we absolutely did not agree with what they said. Now our parents sue them.

      Meanwhile, this entire fucking nation is going to hell and we are turning out some of the stupidest fucking kids we ever have, and that all links back to this sue happy approach and not being able to take what someone says and overlook it. We went form teaching our kids to be toughed skinned to teaching them to take things to heart and that has created a problem. The words have been constant if not worse in the past decades, but the suicide rate over the words is on a rise in this decade. Its because of how our views have changed.

      Also, its quite obvious from the post that the school system settled out of court. They just wanted it to disappear. Most likely if this case had made it to court in Minnesota it would have been seen as just another frivolous lawsuit. Everyone says something worth suing them over almost every day. If we sued everyone every time they said something stupid without thinking we wouldn’t have time to do anything other than be in court.

      Aug 13, 2009 at 3:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      Well unfortunatly teaching seems to break down into two catagories. Those who went into it because they love it, love kids, are good at it, were drawn to it…and those who wanted summers off and a govt. job. Unfortunatly, even one or two of the later kind can really mess up a good school experience for students. I hope these teachers had the fear of God put into their asses. Preferably by a big gay penis.

      Aug 13, 2009 at 3:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • galefan2004
      galefan2004

      @galefan2004: Hell I still remember my friend (who was an older dude) that lived with us when I was in 6th grade. He was showing me how to write his name in calligraphy on the back of my spelling book. Well, one day I lost my spelling book and the teacher found it. So, she looks at the back and sees the name. She asked, (called the name out), whose in love with him? So, I had to say in front of the whole class it was my book.

      I didn’t run home to tell mommy and daddy that the big bad teacher needed to be sued. I sucked it up and dealt with it, and to this day it just wasn’t a huge fucking deal. Seriously, if I was this kid I would have probably told the teacher that I’m only into older men when they were hot and Ben Franklin was to old and not hot enough. I also would have said that my fence only swung one way and that they were just jealous because my fence still didn’t come close to them. We need to learn how to deal with things without running to the judge every time a problem arises.

      Aug 13, 2009 at 3:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • galefan2004
      galefan2004

      @Cam: The big gay penis would be the love of god not the fear of god.

      Seriously, no one is dumb enough to go into teaching because they want a government job and summers off. There are much better ways to get that. Most teachers go into teaching because they honestly want to help kids and respect kids. However, even good teachers can sometimes go bad, and even in this day in age, especially in places like Minnesota, people judge and condemn gays based on religious intolerance, and when you judge and condemn someone it really doesn’t matter how you treat them.

      Aug 13, 2009 at 3:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • j
      j

      @Ryan: Well said Ryan. The comments themselves are mild, but the fact that they came from a person who is in a position of authority is crazy. Kids really do look up to their teachers and they’re supposed to feel safe in their presence.

      Aug 13, 2009 at 3:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • hardmannyc
      hardmannyc

      $25,000 is maybe not that much money, but it’s got symbolic value.

      Aug 13, 2009 at 3:26 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Thx
      Thx

      Ryan: bless you and thank you for clearly having a mindset that puts our kid first. I wish every single teacher and other authority figure in our nation had your heart, and your balls.

      Aug 13, 2009 at 3:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • amazingpenis
      amazingpenis

      Galefan2004: I don’t think you understand the significance of the situation. This isn’t a kid bullying another kid. This is a TEACHER bullying a kid. These teachers are encouraging entire classes of children to do the same. I can’t believe you would condone this behaviour just so you can have an five paragraph egotistical rant about how tough your childhood was…

      Aug 13, 2009 at 4:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jay Pat
      Jay Pat

      woah, you can suit people for that?

      wow, I could’ve made a shit load of money.

      Aug 13, 2009 at 4:25 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Yuki
      Yuki

      From the accounts, it sounds less like a silly joke and more like the teachers were actually making fun of the student. That’s a baaaad thing. =( Jokes are all fine and dandy (one of my favorite teachers even made fun of me a few times!), but not when it’s actually meant.

      Aug 13, 2009 at 4:25 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • galefan2004
      galefan2004

      @amazingpenis: Teachers bully kids. Its always happened. It will always happen. Teachers call kids out. It has happened. It will always happen.

      I don’t think you understand my stance. You see, no amount of lawsuits or threat of lawsuits will ever change the given situation. The only way to survive through the given situation is to suck it up and get through it. The truth is that there will be difficult situations in your life and you will have to suck them up and get through them. I’m not condoning the teachers actions. I’m simply saying that a law suit is probably not the best response. Now, this kid is going to have the stigma of being the kid that filed the lawsuit against the school. He is from fucking Minnesota. Its a red neck state. Red necks hate law suits more than they they hate people trying to take their guns away. That means, as long as this kid lives in Minnesota he will be stigmatized. His parents took a bad situation and made it worse by trying to get rich. The end result is the kid now has a black mark on his name that will carry him the rest of his life the entire nation knows hes gay rather he wanted them to or not and the school teachers got a slap on the wrist and the school system had to pay out $25,000 of Minnesota’s tax dollars.

      I never said that this situation was acceptable. I said that suing in such situations in the the solution.

      Now, as far as other comments about how students are taught to respect teachers, I need to wonder what fucking rock these people live under. Seriously, students are taught to question teachers. Students don’t respect teachers as some kind of leader. They respect themselves enough to question what teachers say. If a kid is being raised to blindly follow and respect authority then that is an issue in an of itself.

      Aug 13, 2009 at 4:26 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      @galefan2004: I’m not sure what teachers you know…but there are so many unqualified, burned out, teachers that just want the paycheck. And for you to say that there are better ways of getting it, don’t fool yourself. What other job gives you three months off in the summer, plus two weeks at Christmass, a week at spring break, plud every other government holiday and NONE of those days count against the vacation time you are given?

      Sure, you aren’t going to become a millionaire but there are much crappier govt. jobs out there. In NYC, something like 30% of the teachers couldn’t even pass the tests on their own subject, so no, there are plenty of crap teachers out there. Trying to say that they are all good, is the same as saying that all the people working at the DMV or at Ford or at Goldman Sachs are good. No they aren’t.

      Aug 13, 2009 at 5:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • galefan2004
      galefan2004

      @Cam: For starters, you don’t get three weeks off in the summer. This is one of the biggest myths in the educational world. Teachers normally end up teaching classes in the summer. They also are required to keep continuing college class credit hours to stay up to date on their license so they have to take classes in the summer as well. They also spend about as much time as they do in the class room preparing lessons. I never once said that there aren’t burnt out teachers, but most of them aren’t willing to put the work into teaching. Seriously, would you rather have 1 month (they teach one and go to school for one) off a summer in a job where you work 16+ hours a day 5 days a week (they have a shit load of work to do outside the classroom when they aren’t in it) or a job that gives you two weeks off a summer when you work 40 hours?

      When the fuck did I say they were all good? I think I said exactly the opposite. I said if we are teaching our kids to see their teachers as some sort of authority figures and not to question them then that is a problem. We should teach our kids to question teachers. I am not trying to portray teachers as saints. However, I would love to see you stand in a classroom 7 hours a day then go home and spend your entire evening preparing for the next days lesson only to do the same thing again and then spend the weekends grading papers. While you are doing that any kid that is even remotely offended by anything you possibly say is going to tell his parents that will most likely sue you to get rich quick. The United States has one of the worst educational systems in the “1st world” group of countries.

      Are there burned out teachers that don’t give a fuck anymore? Sure there are. Are there burned out members of every single profession that simply don’t give a fuck anymore? Sure there are. Don’t let the minority influence your opinion of the majority.

      Aug 13, 2009 at 5:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • schlukitz
      schlukitz

      six out sixteen comments on this thread. That’s almost 40 percent.

      Plus Galefan2004 got the last word in. Guess that makes him de winnah!

      Galefan2004 should heed his own advice.

      Don’t let the minority influence your opinion of the majority.

      Aug 13, 2009 at 5:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • samhain
      samhain

      Gay kids need to suck it up. Tell them, “yeah I’m gay, so what.” Shit happens – you get gay bashed, deal with it, pussy. Cops? Lawsuits? You’re a shame to the gays, we’ll never get anywhere if we act like you. In high school I was all, “yeah baby I’m gay, you want some?” and that did more for our cause than this loser.

      Uh, NO.

      We all know gay teens are anywhere from 2 to 4+ times more likely to commit suicide. Here are TEACHERS, not only doing the very bullying that is largely responsible for this fact, but echoing, encouraging, and validating the student bullying that they’re supposed to protect kids from.

      More power to the tiny fraction of gay kids that can stand up to it and match wits with their teachers. But I would give power as well to kids like this one who call it out for the bullying it is, more than those (like myself and probably 95% of closeted gay high school students) that “suck it up” and contribute to invisibility, while living with that horrible pit-in-stomach feeling every time someone makes a fag joke, says “that’s so gay, dude!”, or mocks some gay celeb or sitcom storyline.

      He already transferred to a school 25 miles away, and to whatever degree he gets dumped on for being the fag that ratted, he’ll be out soon enough, and can live the rest of his life with some pride.

      Aug 13, 2009 at 6:03 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • hyhybt
      hyhybt

      <i?Seriously, no one is dumb enough to go into teaching because they want a government job and summers off. There are much better ways to get that. Some people are that dumb, and I’ve had some well-meaning folks suggest I go into teaching for exactly those reasons. I’m not fool enough to; besides the summer work and hours of extra work every day, I know I’d be bad at it and don’t want to inflict that on anyone. But some people really do look at it and go “time off in the summer and a pension? Count me in!”

      Aug 13, 2009 at 6:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JNYCA
      JNYCA

      The school shouldn’t be paying for that. The Teacher should, and they should lose their job.AAAAAAAAAND to all these people claiming that you should learn to SUCK IT UP!?

      You have GOT to be kidding me. These are TEACHERS!!! They are the people that we pay our hard earned tax money to, and trust to develop our youth into the next generation. If you don’t think for a minute that they should be PUNISHED severely for such actions……MY GOSH there is definitely something wrong with YOU, too. (especially considering you are gay.seek help…..seriously.you obviously have self respect issues.) Would you idly stand by if a teacher made racist comments? They are teaching our youth that it is perfectly acceptable to mistreat those that are different. It IS unacceptable and the exact OPPOSITE of education.

      It is one thing for students to get in a fight at school, to call each other stupid, etc. And it is a completely different thing when the adults we trust to raise our children are acting no better than trash. If they want their money, then they should have respect for their position, and the respect for the children we place in their care! Suing is not the problem here. RESPECT and CLASS, and Teachers that need to GROW UP is the problem here.

      My god. And BRAVO to the parents who sued the crap out of that school….although, I think they should have sued the teacher solely.

      Aug 13, 2009 at 7:52 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Popsnap
      Popsnap

      This seems way overboard. My spanish teacher is one of those teachers that makes fun of everyone & you can have fun with, joke around ect. and she made fun of me before, but she also gave a student a detention for saying the word “fag” and said that she’d have reacted the same way as if a student had said the N-word.

      You need to have respect for others if you want to be a teacher, and also be fun too. She deserved to be disciplined.

      Aug 13, 2009 at 8:13 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Popsnap
      Popsnap

      Also, things are getting much better in our schools. I attend high school in northern Ohio and people treat me no differently than they would anyone else. In my school of 800, there are about 15 openly GLBT students. The only people who make fun of us anymore are the dumb jocks, simply because there are so many of us out nowadays and at younger ages.

      Aug 13, 2009 at 8:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • schlukitz
      schlukitz

      @Popsnap:

      That is really encouraging to hear. Thank you for sharing that with us.

      Aug 13, 2009 at 8:25 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Nunya Bizness
      Nunya Bizness

      I guess a line has to be drawn somewhere… and if we want cruel bullying by students to cease — then we’d have to demand that the teachers lead by example. If they’re ridiculing a child, are they providing a license for the students to go even further?

      Reminds me of my senior year in highschool… I went to a college prep highschool that, as an exercise, made us choose and schedule our own classes at the beginning of each semester. They would set the gymnasium up for the exercise — and we’d show up according to how they scheduled us in alphabetized groupings.

      Upon returning after Summer Break — there was a considerable crowd in the gym and in walks a guy who most of us had known for the previous three years (an incoming class was typically approx 1500 students — and by graduation the class would only dwindle down to about 800, so EVERYBODY wasn’t known — but this guy was). However, this guy (a typically masculine, sports-involved, sociable black kid with a very nice personality that most were fond of) — walked in with his hair done in a very feminine style (straightened and curled), wearing tight jeans, a ruffly blouse, riding boots and a purse. If I recall correctly — his name was Dwayne.

      The sight of such an ensemble on a gentleman today might not even label a guy as “gay” given that men’s fashion has evolved. However, Keep this was at the end of the Summer of 1991. Thankfully, the school had a kickass Performing Arts department that was chock full o’ gays… so even during the Dark Ages of the ’90′s, simply being feminine would not have raised an eyebrow. But everyone thought they KNEW who the gays were — they had been identified, labeled and accepted in previous years. No one was expecting this surprise.

      Well, most folks (students and teachers) had the look of “Is that who I think it is?!” — respectfully kept it moving. That was, until the new Football Coach decided to openly heckle the guy. After a few loud statements were thrown — the senior guys on the football team rallied around the coach and they all (as a pack) followed the kid around the gym yelling & laughing at him while he tried to schedule his classes. Eventually, the principal stepped in to quiet the fuss and reprimand the Coach — but by then it was such a spectacle that Dwayne ran out of the gym crying; and I don’t remember him returning to even attempt finishing his senior year.

      I felt so HORRIBLE… not only because of the guilt of identifying with him without coming to his aid; but also because of the shock at realizing that the ridicule was originally led by an ADULT who should have provided a different example. I don’t think the football guys would have even bothered Dwayne had the Coach not started in on him first.

      Rubbish often surfaces, however… because, fast forwarding a few years later (and talking to friends who graduated from that school after me) — the Coach impregnated another single female teacher at the school (who’s mom was also a Vice Principal at the same school) and was then rumored to have slept with several female students. He was eventually (and rightfully) dismissed from that city’s school system.

      But, I often wonder what happened to Dwayne — and if he thought enough to finish his education. I hope that one adult didn’t have such an impact on him that it negatively affected his life in later years.

      Aug 13, 2009 at 9:03 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • epluribusunumjk
      epluribusunumjk

      I remember that when I was a junior in high school, one of my teachers said that he wanted “the gays to wiped off the face of the planet.”

      I raised my hand and said, “I don’t agree.” When he asked why, I said, “Because I’m gay.”

      His mouth completely dropped. I went to a Catholic high school in a rural area so there wasn’t much retribution I could obtain. After the school day, I was in the library checking my email, and he came up and apologized. He may not have meant it, but at least he felt compelled to say something.

      All in all though, I loved high school (just, not the uber conservative teachers). One of my best friends from high school and I have been friends since 2000, and we now, many years later, work at the same corporation. It’s pretty cool.

      I guess you gotta take the good with the bad.

      Aug 13, 2009 at 9:13 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • M Shane
      M Shane

      I’m outraged, I was raised in Minnesota, and leaft here as soon as possible. Minnesota makes all these pretentious Claims about being “gay friendly” and they have never been more than a lot of phonies. I left their as soon as I discovered that there was something else. The bigest mistake I made was moving back, mainly because my aging parents were here.

      Since I have lost two jobs for my sexuality , working in organizations that were almost run by closeted gay people.
      They have a Civil Rights Commision which commited ouright fraud with my case because the respondents were religous weirdos and the Commision is run by black religious bigots, and the person running it would not respond to the Mayor’s request that it be reveiwed.

      There has never been a gay community as such everyone just gets ‘married” and lives in the suburbs and goes to church. The Gay organization does nothing at all but collect salaries. A more pitiful version of HRC.

      If “outfront” or theCivil rights commision did anything all of those teachers should have been fired. But it’s the way they do things here. Don’t make waves, suffer in silence. I don’t remember anything even being said about this..

      Aug 13, 2009 at 9:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Phoenix (Plotting Anarchy From The Basement)
      Phoenix (Plotting Anarchy From The Basement)

      Contact the Anoka-Hennepin School District and tell them your opinion of the continued employment of these two teachers and the fact the young man has to commute to a high-school 25 miles away because of bigotry they stirred up.

      http://www.anoka.k12.mn.us/education/district/district.php?sectionid=10298

      Aug 13, 2009 at 11:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • M Shane
      M Shane

      No. 27 ยท Phoenix (Plotting Anarchy From The Basement) Thanks for the site, I will.

      Aug 13, 2009 at 11:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • prissysissy
      prissysissy

      @galefan2004: Maybe that partly explains why you are so fucked up.

      Aug 13, 2009 at 11:52 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • GranDiva
      GranDiva

      @galefan2004:

      After I dropped out of music school, I ended up working a dead-end job in property-management verification services. I processed many a rental application for teachers (teachers I knew from shared time in college, even) who listed management positions at Taco Bell as employment because it was summer. Not all K-12 teachers have the luxury of 12-month contracts, at least here in Texas; in fact, the only teachers here who can count on year-round work are at private schools. (My next dead-end job was in the career services division of the college of education dean’s office at a major Texas university, so I know of what I speak.) I would say, in fact, that the vast majority of my teachers through high school (who weren’t single and thereby dependent on their jobs for twelve months as opposed to having their income as supplemental to their spouse’s) were, in fact, quite appreciative of the three-month break.

      There are a few bad apples among the teachers, yes. No amount of training or litigation is going to change that, but try and tell that to my last boss, Mrs. PhD in ECE. Touchy-feely PC Goddess, who never met a 4-10 year old kid whose self esteem couldn’t stand a bit more boosting. She would be all about at least sternly reprimanding (quite possibly including suspension) teachers who did what these two teachers did. Luckily for them, I suppose, Mrs. PhD in ECE didn’t take the courses to be certified as a public school administrator.

      I did suck it up, through the end of junior high schoo. Fat lot of good it did me, too, though it did allow me an ironic bit of revenge, when I ended up dating the middle-aged son of the teacher who was the most out-of-line with the homophobia some years later. That and years of therapy…

      Aug 14, 2009 at 1:05 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • damon459
      damon459

      Any teacher who would have said something like that to a class about me, in front of me, would have had their face bashed in plain and simple. If they want to be educators then they should be willing to show as much respect to the students and they wish to receive. I had a few bad teachers I was told I was just another stupid indian who would be nothing but a drain on society I smacked her and when the school trying to kick my out my mother smacker and the principal I know violence shouldn’t be the answer but damn some of these people shouldn’t be around children.

      Aug 14, 2009 at 4:08 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Joanaroo
      Joanaroo

      For decades people with depression were told to “suck it up” leading to the suckee either committing suicide or self-treatment with drugs and/or alcohol. Thankfully that stigma is finally being reduced with the education that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance as much as outside factors.

      Aug 18, 2009 at 1:37 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Joanaroo
      Joanaroo

      Of course that didn’t help my uncle who went thru the horror at Normandy in WW2 but was always brought up to “suck it up” which he did. On up until the PTSD fired up when watching the news during the first Gulf War and he took his rifle out to the woods behind his house and blew his brains out. Whether ridicule, violence or sexual abuse, self-treatment or denial is not the best medicine.

      Aug 18, 2009 at 1:54 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Anson Reign
      Anson Reign

      @galefan2004: Please allow me to simply sa: You are a mislead fool – otherwise known as an idiot. Happy Birthday.

      Sep 29, 2010 at 5:04 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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