Seth Stambaugh, a 23-year-old graduate teaching student at Lewis & Clark College, says he was removed as a student teacher at a Portland, Oregon area elementary school because he told students he is gay. Or was it because he dared discuss the state’s same-sex marriage ban?
The first complaint against him came from a parent focused on the way Stambaugh dressed. The complaint came on a day Stambaugh was wearing “pressed slacks, a button-up oxford shirt, and a cardigan that was a gift from his grandfather,” according to his attorney. Sexton Mountain Elementary Principal Don Martin at that point did nothing about the parent’s issue.
Later that week Stambaugh, who was helping instruct 4th and 5th grade classes, responded to a student’s question about whether he was married. Stambaugh said no, because he “would choose to marry another guy,” and that would be illegal. The conversation ended with the student asking Stambaugh whether that meant he liked liked to hang out with guys, to which he responded, “Yeah.” That exchange made it back to the parent who filed the original complaint — and he promptly threatened to pull his kid out of the school.
So the principal called administrators at the Beaverton School District — which in 2008 was sued by former teacher Wade Willis, who claimed he was “harassed, intimidated and humiliated” for trying to produce The Laramie Project at the school in 2005 — and said Stambaugh was to be banned from teaching in the district and asked Lewis & Clark to reassign him. (Stambaugh says his comments were described to him as “inappropriate.”) The district’s spokeswoman Maureen Wheeler is quick to note Stambaugh wasn’t actually fired, since he was never an employee, but a student teacher enrolled through Lewis & Clark. She would say only “there were the concerns about the conversation with a fourth grade student.” And yet, she says, “The district’s policy and practice is nondiscrimination. We seek diversity in our hiring and we create safe and inclusive environment for students and staff.”
(Lewis & Clark spokeswoman Jodi Heintz is quick to defend the college: “We categorically deny that we had the final call on what happened with Seth.” The Portland Mecury says “Lewis and Clark received a phone call that Stambaugh had been removed from the school. Usually when there is a conflict between a student teacher and a school, someone from Lewis and Clark sits down and talks it out with the school. In this case, there was no discussion, says Heintz. ‘The fact that we were completely cut out of the process was an aberration,’ she says.”)
And thus we have the classic example of adult human beings confusing “sexuality” with “sex.” In an environment where teachers and students would be free to discuss their heterosexual marriages and unions with the class (“And Billy, what kind of work does your mommy and daddy do?”), the gays are forbidden. So long as they shut up about anything remotely related to their private lives, they’ll be permitted around children.
Earlier this week, Stambaugh told an audience at Lewis & Clark open forum this week he was “joyous beyond belief” following his first week in the classroom. “The long hours, the tiring days, they paled in comparison to the sheer energy I got from being in that classroom: from teaching.”
Yeah, get rid of this guy.