Oregon Student Teacher Seth Stambaugh Can Tell Elementary School Kids He’s Gay Again

After getting kicked out of an Oregon elementary school for revealing to elementary school kids that he is a homosexual adult man, student teacher Seth Stambaugh will be welcomed back at the school. It only took some national outrage to get us here.

You’ll recall the Lewis & Clark College student was removed several weeks ago after responding to a fourth grader’s question about whether he was married (Nope, said Stambaugh, because he would choose to marry a man, and that’s illegal), which got back to some whiny parents. But after a sit-down with Sexton Mountain Elementary’s Principal Don Martin, there’s good news to report.

With the supportive signatures of twenty-two parents in hand …

His lawyer Luke Perriguey said, “Mr. Stambaugh is joyous beyond belief. He is celebrating privately with friends and family and will make a public statement to all media in the next few days.” Perriguey said the offer of reinstatement came at an afternoon meeting at Lewis and Clark College. Stambaugh will resume his student teaching duties at Sexton Mountain Elementary School next Thursday, returning him to his regular Thursday and Friday schedule.

The offer also probably came after Perriguey reminded the district he could make their lives hell with a full blown civil rights lawsuit, but that’s just water under the watercolor bridge now.

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  • uu

    Wow. As hypocritical as the pope.

  • Daez

    As a gay man, I am in COMPLETE agreement with the original position of the district. His comments were inappropriate no matter what the age group of the students and lacked professional judgment.

    As a student, I have no desire to know rather my teacher is gay or straight. That is information better saved for personal relationships not the middle of an open classroom discussion. After this dude made this big of a stink about this does he honestly think that anyone else in their right minds will ever give him a teaching position? He kind of shot himself in the foot.

  • Geoff in TO

    ‘Earlier this week, 22 parents of students at the school wrote a letter in support of Stambaugh, calling on the district to reinstate the student teacher, whom they said had “positive rapport” with his students.’

    That’s encouraging!

  • timncguy

    @Daez: so, your position is that if a student asked a straight teacher the same set of questions that the student asked this teacher, the straight teacher should have told the student “it’s none of your business”

    If people would just be honest with children, gay and straight wouldn’t be an issue for them. Children wouldn’t think two men or two women being in love was any different than straight relationships except for the fact that their parents teach that to them. And, because they teach that to their children, then they go around demanding that gay people hide from their children.

    Their common phrase of “how will I explain it to my children?” when they see something like two men kissing in public could be very easy to deal with. How about explaining it like this:

    “When two people love each other, they sometimes kiss each other”

    If the child asks a follow-up like “but they are both boys”, the parent could respond with

    “that’s OK, boys can love boys”

    Of course the child wouldn’t ask the follow-up if the parent hadn’t already taught the child that there is something wrong with gays.

  • A.G.

    @Daez: You state that you are in COMPLETE agreement with the school district. In my opinion, their response to this was the typical overreaction that we see all too often when it’s the gay issue.

    You do make an interesting point. I believe Stambaugh did not use the best judgment. He is however, a young, inexperienced, entry-level professional, and questionable judgement, at times, is inevitable.

    He was not making a planned political statement. If I recall correctly, he responded to a student’s question during a spelling test. I’m not suggesting that he deny his identity. If the student had asked about an item on the lunch menu or an upcoming weekend football game, I think most good teachers would have redirected the students’ attention to the task at hand. While it could be argued that this was a “teachable moment,” I don’t think this was the most opportune time for such a discussion.

    My exception with you,Daez, is what I perceive as your tone of unforgiveness. Dismissal or termination is a serious action, and one that would make it very difficult for him to continue with his chosen career. The most positive, productive way to handle this would have been an appropriate follow-up with the local school and university mentors.

  • Joe in Decatur, GA


    You’re an ass. Everyone should be able to be honest about who they are with people of all ages.

  • CJ

    He did nothing wrong. The school overreacted. He deserves to get his job back. Had he been a heterosexual this never would have happened.

  • DR


    Disclaimer before people get all pissy:

    I agree that the reaction over this young man using a personal question as a teaching moment was blown WAY out of proportion, and am thrilled to see him back in the classroom. He never should have been removed, and it’s refreshing to see 22 parents coming together and showing support for a young man with what appears to be a bright teaching career.

    On to answer the question posed:

    Yes, if a straight student asks his teacher whether or not s/he is married the appropriate answer is “none of your business” (in some polite form or another).

    Teachers and other professionals who work with youth have to walk a fine line between being honest and assisting the children/teens with whom they work and revealing too much information about their personal lives which may not be appropriate.

    I realize this is a difficult case. He was asked a question, answered it honestly, and perhaps taught a child something about a gay man that day. Which is good. But we also need to understand, as professionals, that there is a time and a place for everything.

  • the crustybastard

    It’s like a law school exam question:

    The state will not permit you to exercise the fundamental civil right to marry if you are gay, and if you publicly state this empirical fact, the state shall terminate your employment as a public school teacher immediately.

    Discuss the number and type of Constitutional violations. Support your analysis with appropriate case law. This is a close-book test. You have 30 minutes. Begin.

  • csw

    @DR: but a straight teacher would never say “none of your business” because no one cares if you admit to being married if you are straight. while i hypothetically i agree that all professionals should keep their private lives out of the work space, it just doesn’t happen. straight people, even if you have only worked with them for 5 minutes , tend to reveal that they are married, have kids, engaged, single, or in some way or another straight. it is not uncommon to keep a picture of your family and loved ones on your desk at work. i don’t tell many people that i am a lesbian at work, and its not because i believe some bs line about it being the “professional” thing to do, its because i am scared of being judged and ostracized. also, i would truthfully never consider someone unprofessional for admitting that that they have a husband or wife. flashing ones genitals at coworkers or coming to work drunk is unprofessional, but revealing that you have a life outside of work is not, even if that life includes a loved one of the same sex.

  • Vman455

    @DR: The problem with your take on the question is the fact that most teachers are identified as married or not by their title. My second-grade teacher was “Mrs. Deckman,” while my third-grade teacher was “Ms. Kapp.” One was married, the other was not, and this determined the manner in which they were addressed. Similarly, my kindergarten teacher was “Mrs. Wooding,” but when my younger brother was in her class two years later she was “Mz. Stirling”–she had divorced in the intervening time, and this was reflected in her title and name. The way I see it, because marriage is sanctioned by the government and two people getting married must be licensed by the government, it is public knowledge anyway and we have no cause to try and hide it from students. You may as well say that if a student asked his or her teacher, “Do you have a driver’s license?”, an appropriate answer would be, “It’s none of your business.” If nothing else, that kind of response to any question by a student seems very rude to me.

  • L.

    “Oregon Student Teacher Seth Stambaugh Can Tell Elementary School Kids He’s Gay Again”

    I had no idea he had stopped being gay for a while.

  • iDavid

    Considering where society is headed with the acceptance of gays, this student teacher acted right on the money at every corner.

    As they say “there are no accidents”.

  • EM

    So, children are supposed to be lied to because they have the intelligence to ask, and for whatever reason their adult teacher should LIE to them, because….other adults cannot face that?

    What planet are one or two of you here on?

    Firstly, you are assuming this man is revealing his sex life to them? No, he is revealing his orientation, a fundamental part of who he is, and teaching them honesty and giving that child a respectful and honest answer that that child deserves. He is not stating what he does in bed.

    Good for him and it’s great that the school has come through for him. I am straight and this was blatant OTT reaction to nothing, but the US is in a learning curve right now.

    And another thing, why, in many schools and churches, is it acceptable we LIE to children about a man walking on water and the Earth being a few thousand years old rather than answering their questions with proveable science facts, but it is apparently fine for one man to LIE about who he is?

  • ewe

    We are supposed to teach children not to lie and Mr. Stambaugh is the only adult apparently aware of this pesky little trait.

  • Jaroslaw

    I’m surprised no one mentioned Same Sex marriage IS legal in at least one state,Massachussetts. Civil unions are legal in several and New York recognizes but does not perform SSM. This so NOT an issue.

    Just for fun, if a student asked a straight teacher if she is married, how would this go over: No, but I’m living in sin (a term I heard a lot growing up) with a man. And further, I wouldn’t even consider that patriarchal institution of marriage!!!

  • Clay Boggess

    He could have been like everyone else, gay or straight, by simply stating that he was not married and leaving it at that. If he had used that approach he would not have had to get his job back. He would have already never lost it in the first place. Do you think that a straight man is going to answer “no, I’m not married” and explain why? No. Most kids just want to know that you are married or not and that’s it!

  • That Bitch Téa Delgado

    No, trust me, most kids want to know more. Yes, I teach high school and not elementary, but starting from “Are you married?” it proceeds to “Do you have a girlfriend?” to “Have you ever had a girlfriend?” It’s when I answer the last one honestly (No) that I get quizzical looks, then a lightbulb or two and then the final question….

  • The Dancy

    I’m so on the fence about this. I’m all for being open and honest with kids but you have to really think. Kids ALWAYS ask teachers about their personal lives. It’s inevitable. They’re curious about what their teachers do outside the classroom. I worked side by side in a 6th grade classroom with another teacher in an urban school. She had pictures of her husband and her kids on the wall. So it’s natural that kids would ask about her husband or kids.

    The kids would often ask me if I had a girlfriend (because they thought I was too young to be married.) I told them no. That’s it. Now, I could have said “No because I like men” but I didn’t. Not because I don’t think kids should know that gay people exist and are teaching them, but because I knew how these kids thought and how their parents teach them. If they knew one of their kids teachers was gay, there would be a HUGE poo storm over it. These kids weren’t the most mature kids despite being in 6th grade.

    I had to gauge it. One of the WORST kids I had once said to me (in regards to my sexuality) “Ain’t nothin’ wrong with being gay. That’s what my mom told me. I got a gay cousin and I love my gay cousin.” I then told him I was gay and he understood. That was that. But that’s one case. It’s not like that with all kids. If I just blurted it out to the whole class, they’d think I was a child molester and their respect for me would go out the window.

    Now I could be the TEACHER and educate them about such things but but parents are VERY cautions about what you teach their kids. Especially if it’s NOT apart of the curriculum. It’s not really my place to just come out to the kids no matter how informative I think it’ll be. Some parents just don’t want their kids learning about gay people.I disagree with that and, as an educator, it is my job to not only teach academics but social skills but, frankly, there is a limit. People have the right to be upset about it but not to fire someone over it.

  • Mordecai

    @ The Dancy: This guy didn’t blurt anything out, he honestly answered a direct question a kid asked him. He shouldn’t have to lie because it freaks out homophobic parents. And I hope you get to the point where you feel comfortable/ secure in your job to put up pictures of your significant other. I know the reality is not that simple, especially since sexual orientation isn’t yet protected by federal job-discrimination laws. But it’s the way it should be.

  • johanna

    I’m kind of iffy about this issue. I go to a private Catholic school – have all my life – and I’ve had teachers who were gay, but they weren’t permitted to talk about it because, obviously, it’s a Catholic school. It somewhat damages a relationship with a teacher when they aren’t honest with you. You can have a connection with Mrs Robertson in Religion class when she tells you about her issues with her husband or her children (always relating to the subject of the class and never slipping into gossip, of course), but when you ask Mr Smith in English if he’s married and he gives you a flat “no” and quickly changes the topic, it’s just a different relationship. Of course, it isn’t any of our business, strictly speaking. But particularly in high school, having a more personal relationship with a teacher can be incredibly beneficial. I think Seth did the right thing by being open. I wish my school district would rally around some of my teachers the same way, but alas, it will never happen.

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