Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Very Much Alive in Beaverton School District

Student center at Lewis & Clark College in Por...

Student center at Lewis & Clark College

Dyer Sez: Fourth grade teacher Seth Stambaugh has found himself about to be reassigned to another school over the controversy of…admitting he’s gay.

According to a story by Wendy Owen of the Oregonian, a conversation initiated by a 4th grade student led to the teacher’s admittance that he was homosexual. From the article:

“Seth Stambaugh told a fourth-grader who asked if he was married, that he was not. When the student asked why, Stambaugh, who is gay, replied it was not legal for him to get married because he would choose to marry another man. The student then asked does that mean you like to hang out with other guys? and Stambaugh responded yes, said Lake Perriguey, Stambaugh’s attorney.

The parent of a student who overheard the conversation complained, Perriguey said, and district administrators asked Stambaugh’s advisors at Lewis & Clark College to find him another school.

Perriguey said the parent who complained had already raised an issue about Stambaugh’s appearance, which Perriguey described as pressed pants, an oxford shirt, a tie and a cardigan. Stambaugh has a light Van Dyke and pulls his hair back into a pony tail.”

It’s very difficult to find anything wrong with this conversation. A teacher was asked a potentially sensitive question from a student. He apparently answered the question with the enough decorum to not only prove that he was well aware of the potential fallout his answer might generate but also that such questions can be answered with honesty and candor and yet remain entirely professional.

Preeminent Law and constitutional scholar, Jonathan Turley, noted on his blog:

“While some teachers might have avoided the legality issue with a fourth grader, I do not see why the teacher is expected to conceal his sexual orientation as a general matter. Moreover, if the school believes that the exchange went too far, it would hardly seem the basis for this type of action.”

Also, the article stated that a previous compliant had been filed by the same parent over that fact that Stambaugh has long hair…an utterly ridicules argument that I had thought had been left behind with the extreme right-wing viewpoint on ‘them dirty hippies’ in the 60’s. This leads me to believe that this miscarriage of liberty has more to do with some sort of back-woods throwback to a more intolerant time in our recent history and the people who have obstinately held on to those long dismissed notions than it has to do with the disclosure of a person’s sexual orientation.

One can argue that sexuality should never be discussed in the classroom (I for one agree with that notion…it’s a parent’s duty to discuss matters of sexuality and religion not the state, nor an agency thereof), but this was not strictly a question of sexuality , but of social mores. Would it have been wrong for Stambaugh to prance around the room, rhythmically banging a drum as he spat out, “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it” at the top of his lungs? Absolutely. Was it wrong for this teacher to try to honestly answer a sensitive question with as much decorum and professionalism? Absolutely not.

Perhaps this parent’s problem stems from antiquated religious beliefs. Sure the Bible says homosexuality is an aberration – but it also states that God outright lied to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, that the first thing Noah did after the floods receded was to get piss drunk and run around naked then send his son away after the boy tried to cover him up, that Abraham used his wife as a whore/bargaining tool to save his own ass, and that genocide is OK as long as you consider yourself to be God’s chosen. By stating this I am not trying to ridicule anyone’s religious beliefs, but to point out that some parts of the Bible are overlooked while some (like the apparent godly distaste for homosexuality) are harped upon almost as if they are the most important words in the entire book.

One thing that history has taught us is that when you live in a free society, everyone is afforded the same liberties and should be treated equally under the law and within the social mores of a society. As soon as exceptions are made for certain groups to have less freedom than other, the doors of tyranny and mob rule open wide.

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