A teacher employed by the Fort Zumwalt School District in O’Fallon, Missouri has triggered an investigation into his conduct following a controversial tweet. On October 3, the teacher posted comments ridiculing same-sex marriage to his Twitter account.
“Never should have allowed gay marriage to start with,” the tweet read. “Marriage is between man and woman, plain and simple.”
The tweet invited immediate backlash from students and parents. A short time later, the teacher posted an apology of sorts. “I made a post earlier that was apparently insensitive to many and hurtful,” it read. “We all make mistakes and mine was public. I apologize to anyone that was offended. In reading responses I am deeply regretful of hurting anyone’s feelings.” The teacher also made his Twitter account private, though not before screenshots of the earlier tweet decrying marriage equality began to circulate among the community.
Now one former student, Caitlin Bush, has launched a petition to demand accountability. “Part of a teacher’s job is to keep students safe, to create a safe space at school especially for students who don’t have that safe space at home,” Bush told CBS affiliate KMOV. “If you cannot love and accept all of your students, you shouldn’t be teaching. Because of free speech you can technically say that but you need to accept the consequences.”
It’s worth noting that Bush herself had the teacher–whose name has not been made public–for two years while attending Fort Zumwalt High.
“His Twitter feed – it wasn’t privatized and so it was open for any of our students, parents, community to see,” Superintendent Dr. Bernard DuBray said to KMOV. “If he wants to have an opinion that’s fine but he needs to keep it to himself or privatize his Twitter.”
DuBray acknowledged that he and other school administrators had met with the teacher–who also works as a coach for the district–but would not comment on disciplinary action. He did, however, acknowledge the teacher did violate district ethics policies. The case remains ongoing.