For the past two years, special ed teacher Jenye Viki Knox (pictured) has been in a legal battle with administrators from a Union Township High School in New Jersey after she claims they violated her free speech and religious rights by firing her for launching into an unprovoked homophobic tirade. Now, a judge has ruled in her favor.
The incident happened back in September 2011. After noticing a poster for LGBT Month hanging in the school hallway, Knox took to Facebook to express her outrage, writing:
“Why parade your unnatural immoral behaviors before the rest of us? I DO NOT HAVE TO TOLERATE ANYTHING OTHERS WISH TO DO. I DO HAVE TO LOVE AND SPEAK AND DO WHAT’S RIGHT!”
She then listed all her religious objections to the billboard, which included statements from the bible about homosexuality, calling homosexuality a sin and an act of “disobedience to God,” and calling for salvation through Mr. Jesus H. Christ.
School board officials determined Knox’s behavior was “unbecoming” of a state employee who is supposed to be a role model to young people, and as a result, she was suspended without pay for three months, a punishment Knox feels was unfair.
“It’s not like she was a teacher standing up in the middle of class and saying I believe in ‘this, this and this,” her attorney, Demetrios Stratis, argued in court.
At the end of the school year, she resigned from her job, saying that being branded as a zealot and a homophobe had gotten to be too “stressful.”
She now claims the incident caused her considerable “physical and emotional toll” and that she hasn’t been able to work since.
This week, U.S. District Court Judge Kevin McNulty ruled in Knox’s favor, opening up an opportunity for her to argue her case before a federal jury. She is seeking reinstatement, back pay, and monetary damages.
h/t: Raw Story
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A government employee needs to show professionalism and non-bias. If the lawsuit is successful, I hope the school district appeals it. The lawsuit has no basis.
Fine, go before a Federal Jury, Have fun with that, bigot.
“I do have to love”. Really? You mean you only have to love based on your bigoted terms and definitions.
I know I’ll take some heat from this, but we do have to start drawing some lines, and I think so long as she only posted this rant on Facebook, and didn’t say those things at school, we might not like it, but better support her right to say it. So, OK, give her the three months of back pay.
But, I’m sorry sweetie, if you act like a zealot and bigot, don’t act surprised if that’s how people label you. Once again we see people thinking that the right to free speech some how extends to the right to be free from consequences. Hon, if the other folks don’t like you anymore because of that, and no one will sit next to you in the teachers lounge, just consider it the high price of martyrdom.
But she QUIT. Now she wants a do-over. Sorry, she’d should be glad I live in Florida, so likely won’t be on her jury.
I think that christian turd got off pretty damn easy! Of all the minorities to complain about being ‘pussecuted,” this broad takes the cake. Appeal it to a higher court, Jemima, and you’ll wish you’d never opened your tw*t to say anything!
I disagree with her message but I agree with her lawsuit. I don’t think that a business, whether it be governmental or private, should fired someone because of what’s on Facebook or any other social media. We’ve gotten too much in putting stuff on the social media that a lot of it is personal. Now, had she said that in school or in a business she worked in, then that would have been a different story.
what about the sin of gluttony,ms knox?
I’d like to slap this heffa across her fat face.
@Dakotahgeo: Using words like “Jemima” you prove to be no better than she, and you should join her at the table for that slice of pie. One thing you can count on here at Queerty ,is that when the perpetrator has a Black face,the gay bigots will come out.
And do you know her: than how would you know if she complains personally about being persecuted?? Not every Black person sits around and bellow about how life is unfair to them because they are Black. Oh let me guess, you practice generalizations 101. The actions of a few, is the actions of all…
@Tackle: What…. eva!!!
For those saying that she should have the right to her views on facebook. No, as a public government employee you are under extra scrutiny when it comes to fairness. If an LGBT kid from her school saw her post and did something drastic or tragic, would you then change your minds?
At any rate, government employees have a duty of being fair and treat everyone equally as they are paid by our tax dollars. They are held to a higher standard and I would know this very well.
And people have been fired many times for posting stuff on facebook. Facebook isn’t private, nor do you have any reasonable expectation of privacy on it.
A teacher has a duty to protect the well being of all her students. Her posts could have very well hurt one of her students. Consider that please.
@Tackle: I’m sorry to say this Tackle, but I believe your response to Dakotahgeo might have been somewhat incorrect.
This Jenye Viki Knox “started it”, and, given gay folks are another minority, we possibly have a right to point out that she is one – and, to some, a loathed one – too.
Bitch of the devil. I hope the federal judge reverses the charges and puts her in bankruptcy.
Free to express yourself? Yes. Free to express your personal views in private? Of course. But my real question is how “private” is Facebook? Can Facebook be considered a private forum? I say no. Facebook is very public. What you post on Facebook may be private to you, but not to the other users who see your post and re-post it. Then how private is that? How can you expect to claim “privacy” when you post on the internet?
by the way, this is a private post…lol
@brent6696: Law enforcement and businesses scope out facebook all the time. I’ve heard of people getting fired for things they say on facebook. And facebook privacy settings change all the time… often they turn off having your profile private.
Just one story I dug up:
No privacy. And this man found that out quite quickly!
As usual, people who rant about their rights really mean that they should have the freedom to say and do what they want, but that other people shouldn’t. I’m not a lawyer so I don’t know about the legal merits of the case, but it’s interesting that says: “I DO NOT HAVE TO TOLERATE ANYTHING OTHERS WISH TO DO.” But she wants her freedom of speech protected.
She is certainly not alone in this. We hear it everywhere, including on Queerty from men who demand respect for their gay rights while attacking the choices of men who live their lives differently. There are gay men here who condemn interracial or intergenerational relationships, who attack transgender people, porn stars, sex workers, those interested in BDSM, men who are too fem or too butch or too flamboyant or too closeted or too left or too right.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not defending this woman. I’m just saying the world is full of hypocrites.
@bjohnmasters: I understand what you’re saying… does what she say in private affect what she does at work? It’s a fine line, but posting something social media definitely outlines someone’s character. If they’re willing to post something for the whole internet to see/read, then they need to be held accountable. This wasn’t a whisper at a private party.
Maybe because I’m from Canada… we can say anything we want, but there are consequences. Hate speech isn’t allowed in public. And a teacher saying these things on a very public forum would be disciplined.
@jwtraveler: Exactly. And one thing that really gets to me is when gay men attack other gay men they think are “misrepresenting them”. What gives those gay men to even criticize or attack flamboyant or feminine gay men? I just never get it. Yes, hypocrites are everywhere… including on this website. Also something I found out… some will even attack rape victims on here and say it was their fault.
I’m telling you… some people are just so irritating and blind.
@Tackle: ITA with every word you wrote.
Unconditional love is impossible to sell, it needs to be lived. That is the only way its trueness may be measured. The Church ought to know this. It’s scary that they don’t and it makes the Church, the leaders of the Church, appear less true. People underestimate the damage that inequality does. It takes years, generations, to overcome being thought of as, “lesser than.”
Being different is more a lesson for those who encounter us, rather than the other way. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
It’s easy to love one of your own. If you merely love those who love you, what quality of credit and thanks is that to you? For even the very sinners love their lovers—those who love them. (Luke, 6-32-36)
The fact that she quoted an untold number of verses from what seems to be every lonely black woman’s best friend, the Bible, should alone tell you what her mentality is. There is no mention of kids, a man/husband or anything else in her life that suggests she understands/has feelings such as passion, love of offspring nor sex. I have no doubt she girled, honey-chiled and rolled her eyes in unison with other black women in the coffee room, or teachers lounge, about the gay kids and other teachers whom they suspected were gay but had done NOTHING to them personally.
It has to be painful for a person to be so lonely that they have to turn to b/s, fictitious beliefs (religion) in order to get them thru the day because they lack confidence within themselves to do so alone. If gay people bothered her that bad why didn’t she just quit instead of letting the whole world know she’s just frustrated affirmative action statistic with so little knowledge of how social media works that she doesn’t deserve a job because she is too stupid to understand its modern day requirements. Fool, what you say on Facebook social media and just about all of the internet period is public knowledge ANYONE can read it as soon as it goes up.
Close that bible and go out and get some fresh air. When desperate voices start crying out “they won’t hire us” you are example number one as far as I am concerned as to why enough already have been.
A hypothetical: Let’s say her boss at school was caucasian. I wonder how she would feel/react if her superior had posted on his/her facebook page that blacks were inferior and the only position they should serve is as slaves.
this woman has no right to voice such personal views while getting paid by taxpayers…..that she is Black and so intolerant amazes me….
Low Country Boy
“This week, U.S. District Court Judge Kevin McNulty ruled in Knox’s favor, opening up an opportunity for her to argue her case before a federal jury.”
Let me guess: The defense moved for summary judgment, which was denied, and now the case moves to trial? Not earth shattering. Are there any legal consultants on the Queerty staff?
@TomMc: And I’m sorry that you are supporting someone who expressed bigotry. My response to @Dakotahgeo: was correct. A bigot is a bigot. Regardless if they happen to be a Black, a woman or a GAY man… You do not fight bigotry by expressing yours. It completely de-legitimatizes your so-called fight against bigotry.
Her homophobia was not directed only at White LGBTQ people. And if you knew anything about Union Township New Jersey, then you would know it has a very sizable Black population. And if she happens to live in a Black area, chances are her homophobia was directed at those gays around her. Some poster hurling words like ” Jemima” around only shows their true colors, and will not be taken as a compliment by Black LGBTQ people…
what’s sad is she probably had a gay student in her class and didn’t know. This lady should not be a teacher anyways.
So typical of her kind. She screws up and then blames everyone else for it. Why hasn’t Sharpton gotten involved?
Love it when african americans use the bible to justify their bigotry. Seem to forget that the same bible was used to justify their enslavement and up until the 70s’s Mormon taught that blacks suffered from “the stain of Cain” and were thus “lesser people”
After publicly spewing her rabid homophobia, Knox claims that SHE was the victim in this case. Of racism! How do teachers with such low IQs get certified to teach our kids? This detestable bigot does not belong in any classroom.
@QJ201: And let us not forget that back around that time (late 1970’s) a black man went public with his being rejected as a Latter Day Saints minister. Imagine that. Its scary to think someone wanted to be able to preach that shit to people who were already stupid enough to believe they would be allowed into “masters” heaven as long as they OBEYED masters law got upset because they said no.
To think a church filled with large breast black women bouncing up and down on a Sunday afternoon with joy after hearing a reverend just say they need look no further than the mirror every morning to see they are beasts, a cursed race but will be let into heaven if they OBEYED gods law sounds imbecilic. But thats just what it would have had to become in order to follow the true word of the Book of Mormon. I still shake my head at the silence of the black church leaders when this happened. But then they blamed HIV on the “sins” of black gay men so there you have it.
The younger white LDS members go out of their way to justify the errors of their elders to the point it sounds just as though a white politician is being channeled regardless of the age of the white Latter Days Saints fool being asked the question. I’ll close with this: the LDS has a temple, castle or whatever the hell they call their place of worship in Harlem right off of E. 125th street. They are known for being frugal so I find it right at hard to believe they did not see an opportunity for something up there. I seriously doubt it is to convert the locals too.
If you want to say things on FB that your employer may find objectionable or shed light on your inability to treat your customers (in this case students) equally and fairly….then do what friends of mine have done and have 2 accounts…the one your employer knows about and the one with your friends only name…and never the twain shall meet…
Personally, I don’t think that employers should be monitoring employees profiles and unless they are inciting violence against someone, thing, place they are entitled to their views until it is an actual issue at work. But we know they do and when you are a state employee you have to watch what you say…like many have mentioned…freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences…it’s actually a very conservative idea…your employer owns you.
@Lvng1Tor: Or get rid of facebook completely. LOL. Well that was my solution.
I don’t like how facebook claims they own all your photos. I don’t like any of their constantly changing privacy terms/settings. I set my profile to private, and then the next time they update their terms my profile goes public. So I got rid of facebook ages ago.
By the way, there is no protection of freedom of speech on a website. Websites are all privately owned.
@QJ201: Like you said it was used to justify their enslavement that doesn’t mean that there is no good to come from it.
She was publicly discussing work issues on her Facebook page. You don’t have the right to publicly undermine the authority of your employer about work issues and insult your customers (students), and expect there to be no consequences. The article also said she cited Bible verses. If she cited the Leviticus verse that calls for killing gay people, then you can add terrorist threats to the list. She has no business being in any classroom.
Regarding her race: that’s an irrelevant physical characteristic. What is relevant is her religion. She belongs to a religion that follows a holy book that condones slavery, genocide, and the execution of gay people. Because of this, she should have been heavily scrutinized before every being hired, and asked about specific Bible verses and whether or not she agreed with them.
I love to sit back and watch the bigoted gays who pounce onto any article related to anti gay zealots just to point out the person involved is BLACK. Really? Like Oh My God! That fact was never apparent based on the photo provided in the article. The hypocrisy and white privilege some of you exude will never allow me to fully align myself with you – even when our struggle is the same. This woman is an obvious homophobic bigot. Why must some of you double down with your own bigotry?
Ok, she was suspended without pay for 3 months. She then returned to work, and AT THE END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR she resigned. Now, after all this time she wants to sue to get her job back, back pay, and reinstatement to her previous level. Sorry huntee, you left on your own, YOU WERE NOT FIRED!!! You got punished for opening your mouth for something other than another piece of chocolate pie and got caught. You’re just looking for your 15 minutes.
Yeah she did quit on her own.
Facebook is not a private place. Law enforcement, employers, etc are all over that site. And if you think your profile is set to private, think again.
She won’t win this law suit for one second.
Pegasus, shut up please. Stop acting like a victim. I didn’t even look at her race. The only issue I have with her is her stupid fking statements that could potentially harm LGBT kids. Maybe you should grow up a tad and stop reading into things that aren’t there?
Rolling my eyes so much. I didn’t even read the entire article, but the quote was enough.
Alan down in Florida
@Tackle: As a 1970 graduate of Union High School who lived down the street from the school this saddens me. Especially considering your pointing out the sizable African-American population of Union Township – a population which had to go to Federal Court and force the township to integrate the middle schools. You would think their struggle for equality back then would make them more understanding of another minority’s struggles.
We shouldn’t allow our sensitivities to hinder freedom of speech. While her views are offensive, she should have every right to say what she thinks outside of the classroom.
@aliengod: Facebook isn’t covered by freedom of speech. She is a public employee… Held to a different standard.
She’s wrong. The Judge is wrong. She is NOT a professional anything. Neither is the Judge. She should’ve been fired, and the School should defend themselves vigorously against her. They are right to be rid of a Bigot and religious hate-monger. No re:hire, no back pay, no redress of any kind. Being black, she should’ve had more compassion, but then there’s that religious crap again – the excuse to hate justified by a book of fiction.
she quit. she therefore she doesn’t have a case. the judge’s ruling was wrong.
@Bob LaBlah: ” I have no doubt she girled, honey-chiled and rolled her eyes in unison with other black women in the coffee room, or teachers lounge, about the gay kids and other teachers whom they suspected were gay but had done NOTHING to them personally.”
OMG THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT THEY SOUND LIKE, YOU MUST HAVE WORKED AT A SCHOOL BEFORE
@Ogre Magi: Unfortunately, it was a Fortune 500 company back in the 1980’s. It was criminal as to the people that company hired just to get government contracts and give the impression it helped “all” communities. I saw many a young black gay man come thru the door all excited about the health benefits, retirement plan, profit sharing…………..only to discover that as long as these lonely, frustrated bitches were there it was going to be a living hell.
To this day I still say the smart ones declared victory, quit and moved on to better things. It is sad how it only takes a few frustrated folks to make it bad for everyone.
F**k her and the bigoted, homophobic, right-wing, religious-belief spewing horse she rode in on.
In general, I think employers shouldn’t regulate their employee’s off-work behavior unless it directly and verifiably spills over into the workplace.
If she specifically named her employer and was criticizing them, that could be construed as violating an employee’s legal duty of loyalty (yes, there are laws about that in all 50 states). Otherwise, her venting off-campus should have triggered strict scrutiny of her on-campus behavior, but other than that I would have let it be.
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