This story popped up in my Twitter feed late last week, but I'm just now getting around to covering it because of my frenetic travel schedule. Though it's a local report and is no longer breaking news, its implications are important enough to highlight and discuss. Independent of one's stance on gay rights, the initial actions of the Fort Worth School District in this case were appalling:
An honors student in Fort Worth, Texas, was sent to the principal’s office and punished for telling a classmate that he believes homosexuality is wrong. Holly Pope said she was “absolutely stunned” when she received a telephone call from an assistant principal at Western Hills High School informing her that her son, Dakota Ary, had been sent to in-school suspension.
“Dakota is a very well-grounded 14-year-old,” she told Fox News Radio noting that her son is an honors student, plays on the football team and is active in his church youth group. “He’s been in church his whole life and he’s been taught to stand up for what he believes.” And that’s what got him in trouble. Dakota was in a German class at the high school when the conversation shifted to religion and homosexuality in Germany. At some point during the conversation, he turned to a friend and said that he was a Christian and “being a homosexual is wrong.”
“It wasn’t directed to anyone except my friend who was sitting behind me,” Dakota told Fox. “I guess [the teacher] heard me. He started yelling. He told me he was going to write me an infraction and send me to the office.” Dakota was sentenced to one day in-school suspension – and two days of full suspension.
The boy's family sought legal advice, and once an attorney from the Liberty Counsel entered the fray, the indefensible suspension was lifted and expunged. By the sounds of things, young Dakota was the unwitting target of an instructor with a clear sexual-political agenda:
“They’ve righted all the wrongs,” said Matt Krause, an attorney with the Liberty Counsel. “This should have no lasting effect on his academic or personal record going forward. I told the school that he should never have been suspended for exercising his Constitutional rights,” Krause told Fox News Radio. “There has been a history with this teacher in the class regarding homosexual topics,” Krause said. “The teacher had posted a picture of two men kissing on a wall that offended some of the students.” Krause said the picture was posted on the teacher’s “world wall.”
“He told the students this is happening all over the world and you need to accept the fact that homosexuality is just part of our culture now,” Krause said. The school district would not comment on why a teacher was discussing homosexuality in a ninth grade German class.