Florida Principal Outs High School Lesbian, Orders Her to Stay Away from Children, and Punishes Students Who Support Her

It appears that a principal at Ponce de Leon High School felt that he had made an important discovery himself in Florida. Principal David Davis was shocked when a student came to him about being harassed about being a lesbian. It was not the harassment but the lesbian part that shocked Davis who immediately lectured the girl on her immoral lifestyle, told her to stay away from children, and then outed her to her parents.

Davis’ outrageous treatment of the girl, known only as Jane Doe, prompted a quiet protest from other students. Showing far more sense and compassion than the school, the students became to well gay pride symbols in solidarity. Davis responded by allegedly questioning the sexuality of the other students and suspending some of them.

The American Civil Liberties Union successfully sued the district and Davis was demoted. What is most alarming is that you cannot be fired for engaging in raw discrimination and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation — not to mention interjecting your own religious views into a school setting.

The result makes more sense when you read the response of Steve Griffin, Holmes County’s school superintendent: “We are a small, rural district in the Bible Belt with strong Christian beliefs and feel like homosexuality is wrong.” Griffin always keeps a bible on his desk and has framed Scriptures in his office to greet students and parents who want to speak with him. Given his boss, it is curious that Davis wasn’t promoted over the incident.

Due to the leadership of Griffin and Davis, the small school district will pay not just $325,000 in fees but its own legal costs and fees. Notably, the school district fought the case, seeking to establish that this was not a violation of the rights of these students. It appears that Griffin does not have a copy of the Constitution featured on his wall.

For the full story, click here.

30 thoughts on “Florida Principal Outs High School Lesbian, Orders Her to Stay Away from Children, and Punishes Students Who Support Her”

  1. Hi Gyges,

    I wasn’t offended. How can you know what my experiences have been unless I’ve already mentioned them? Actually, these are old cultures that I’m speaking about. Even among our monkey cousins some are and others aren’t hierarchical. But definitely, humans and homonid sites show much evidence of sharing for the well-being of the group. But I’m not related to no god-damn monkey:) You go to hell and die for thinking that!

  2. Jill,

    My apologies, I just assume nobody ever has any idea what they’re talking about until proven otherwise.

    Certainly cultures existed that didn’t have nearly as strong of a dominate\submissive paradigm. I think that they were probably new developments not an old idea. A look at our close relatives, Chimpanzees and Bonobos, shows that they both have strongly hierarchical social structures. It seems to me to be much more likely that we all inherited that structure from our common ancestor, as opposed to it having developed in all three branches independently.

  3. Gyges,

    We disagree!!! I actually do have a fair share of experiences with buddhism of many kinds. I can’t retract my statement. Also, if you look at some of the earliest known archaelogical reconstructions of human and hominid societies you don’t really see the disparity of leader/followers that is familiar to us now. Grave sites do not show disparity of class. Wounds and medical disorders shown from the bone fragments, tell us these societies helped the sick and infirm stay alive even though such people would have been unable to help much in day to day living of the group. There are even accounts of early historical people who did not have the rigid dominance/submission paradigm of today. A pox on that paradigm whenever it occurs!

  4. Mike,

    I like your choice of the word infected, but think it’s a little inaccurate. My guess is that most of the elements that lend themselves to “power games” are holdovers from earlier and earlier forms of the religion, all the way back to proto-humans believing their family leader could sometimes work supernatural acts on their tribe’s behalf.

  5. Gyges,
    I love the tenets of Zen. however, read a little about its history and you will find small, bloody wars fought by adherents of different Gurus. It shocked me when I discovered this, but then as Jill has so aptly talked about, all beliefs become infected with power games.

  6. Jill,

    I don’t know if I’ve recommended this book here before, but for a really interesting writing on Buddhism in general, with a specific chapter on Karma, check out “The Gods Drink Whiskey” by Stephen Asma. I know that the book was a real eye opener for me.

    I think you probably have the same limited idea of Buddhism that most Americans do (including myself, and more then a few Buddhists), just because of our limited exposer. We tend to think of strictly of Zen Buddhism, which is only a school of one of the two major branches. It’s akin to thinking that all Christians believe the same things as Irish Catholics.

    Other then that, good discussion.

  7. Jill,
    Thank you for your kindness. Thanks for the book tip on the Nootka. i’m always on the lookout for new takes on human spirituality and existence.

  8. There is a fascinating collection of the oral history of the Nootka people from British Columbia. It’s such a unique way of looking at human spirituality, neither western or eastern. It has many stories in it. The book is called: Daughters of Copper Woman. The woman who wrote down the stories on behalf of the Nootka is Anne Cameron. Every time I read it, it just blows me away!

  9. Michael,

    You are a really thoughtful person. I know I’ve said that before, but I appreciate you writing out your ideas very much!

    Jill

  10. Jill,
    I pretty much agree with everything you lay out in your two comments. There is inherent in most religions a concept that I think is actually blasphemous, the idea that we could understand the predilections of a being that can create a universe.

    As you correctly point out, the idea that such a being would demand our worship for its own ego gratification is ridiculous on its face. It is humanity’s own inflated sense of self importance in the scheme of things, that insists on our being more important than any other living entity. We of course are in full agreement in the role that lust for power plays in organized religion’s desire to control it adherents and the rest of us. We further agree that Guru’s, Masters, or even psychotherapists (like myself)are just mortals with few (if any) answers for people, beyond the Guru’s own ego/financial gratification.

    All that being said I think that what is missed in almost all religious teachings is the point behind the myths. That point I believe can be encapsulated in “Do unto others……etc.” All these teachings are merely compendiums of societal wisdom on how a human being can lead a good life. A study of history/mythology/anthropology
    shows us that what the Fundamentalists take as real history, was merely metaphor, that was understood to be metaphor by our ancestors.
    Anyone who believes the “creation story” in Genesis is missing the point by taking literally, what was meant as a myth to look beyond oneself.

    My experience in life and my personal studies have led me to see that I am a Deist, who uses Judaism merely as a means to reach toward the ineffable. I’m comfortable being a Jew, but I don’t believe that it has any greater importance than any other faith. I do believe that there is a creative force in the universe, but I have no idea what its purposes are, nor do I think that we can ever know. I believe this because I have had certain personal experiences that have led me to see that reality is so much more than we can imagine. Then too, if you look at the thinking of modern physics, the universe becomes a very strange place indeed. At the same time the concept of heaven and hell seem ridiculous to me, as does the idea of Satan. So in the end I think humanity is left with “Do unto others…..” as a guideline for ordering the world in a way that will make it the best for all creatures.

    Each and every person though has to reach their own conclusions, because I know that I’m no prophet and I don’t know any I’d suggest people follow. I’m here like everyone else trying to struggle through a mystifying life

  11. Mike,

    I’ve wanted to add this all day. I am in full agreement with you that “do unto others” is an important idea for believers and non-believers alike. Certainly the priest whose young parrish members were going to Iraq and in order to serve them, went there himself, many of the people who work toward social justice and many who are good to all those around them follow this idea. Goodness is the work of many; some of whom believe and some of whom do not. I was trying to say that the nature of belief itself may lead to trouble just as it may lead to good.

    Jill

  12. Hi Mike,

    I think authoritarianism is embedded in most religions. Here’s what I mean–First of all most religions “worship” a god/dess or multiple dieties. Worship is an inherently authoritarian demand. In nature, the only beings we find needing worship are people. Why would god/dess/es need worship? People need it to maintain their power over others but do dieties?

    Even religions which don’t strictly require a god/dess there is a requirement for a guru, yogi, master, sensi etc. Certainly it makes sense to learn from other people. There are so many things to know and it is wonderful and exciting when people share their particular expertise with us. But the idea of gurus etc. not just showing us what they know or have learned so that we might know it as well is different from the usual unquestioning obediance and global control over the student’s life that is required from these “masters”. It just isn’t credible that one person should be able to speak on every aspect of a student’s life and attempt to control it. That to me is another example of inherent authoritarianism and it results in great disaster much of the time.

    Also, religious people are asked to believe things that just don’t make sense. People will say god spared their life in a plane crash and don’t care to think about what kind of god spared one life and left everyone else to a firey death of fear and pain. Why is that belief system exceptable to people? It seems cruel.

    In the Eastern religions we are asked to believ all suffering is maya or the result of karma. What’s wrong with saying suffering is suffering? Many things in life are painful and we feel that pain. Why must we pretend that something did not hurt us? Why would we excuse doing nothing to ameliorate the suffering of others, because that was just their bad karma? Again, it seems cruel.

    I think this authoritarianism is part of the reason why a great deal of cruelty comes from many different kinds of relgions.

    It’s sounds like beautiful day where you are!

    Jill

  13. Rafflaw,
    Sorry for that rather pedantic quibble since I know your erudition didn’t need updating. I slept late today, the sun is shining, temperature in the 80’s and I drank a little too much coffee before going out to play.

  14. “Something has to be done to bring common sense and real Christian values back to our society.”

    Rafflaw,
    While I agree with your sentiments, I must point out that using the term “Christian” values is somewhat misleading. All the major religions: Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, etc. have at their base one concept. Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. Everything else is, as Rabbi Hillel stated, merely commentary. This concept is also shared by Deists, Atheists and Agnostics as evidenced by various secular humanist writings.

    That creed serves as a very good basis for all legal systems that strive for fairness. Unfortunately, those who utilize religion for their own power ignore the essence and concentrate on the margins to find justification for their own lusts. Gullible people, searching for meaning in their lives, take the easy way out and look to these authoratarian
    leaders to guide them in their religious beliefs.

    Davis and Griffin were just these kind of “Christianists,” who ignore the teachings and life of Jesus, in favor of their local Pastor’s misinterpretations. I am not a Christian, but I’ve read “The Gospels” many times. I don’t recognize the Jesus shown there, from the vicious teachings of some so-called Christians. This is of course true of many leaders of all major religions and denominations.

  15. Something has to be done to bring common sense and real Christian values back to our society. WWJO? Who Would Jesus Out? To do this to a youngster under the guise of religion is criminal. I hope the parents and the student file suit against the District and the Principal. Prof. Turley, this would be a good one for you to assist with when you are done with the Dr. Arian.

  16. This from people who live in a town named after a guy who came to Florida in search of the Fountain-of-Youth. And they enjoy citing scripture and quoting mystical beings who are said to fly through the air and walk on water and rise from the dead. I don’t know … who’s the confused one here?

  17. Gyges,

    That’s a really good point. I heard someone speak on this from the New Yorker (can’t remember his name,sorry) who said it also helped that the christian “rock stars” came into contact with lesbian and gay people and passed along this tolerance with their music and fame.

  18. This story does have a positive side that I think we should celebrate. Even in a stronghold of Fundamentalism like this school district seems to be, a good chunk of the younger generation is far more open and tolerant.

    I’m tempted to think that the much maligned social networking part internet would have at least something to do with that. Where as before these teenagers would have to rely mainly on their parents description of what “those people” (whatever group you like) were like, now they have an opportunity to interact on some level with the actual people.
    From my limited experience, it doesn’t have the same “Reality” of actually communicating face to face, but every little bit of exposer helps. I also think that the disconnect might be a lessened for the current generation who grew up with the technology.

  19. The beat of Religious Fundamentalism goes on without, as Jill aptly points out, the awareness of how far short of Christian behavior they fall. Ironically, this hatred of gay people, abortion and liberals of any stripe, is not the work of Christianity, but of Right Wingers cynically using religious belief for political gains. Fundamentalists, of any religion, are the people who least understand the teachings they purport to follow. They are far too busy using their “religion” as a tool to allow them to indulge in hatred and sadism. I have known many deeply religious people, of all faiths, in my life whose practice of their belief was rigorous and yet who were saintly in their treatment of others. They got the real message of their religion.

    Davis, Griffin and their cohort of supporters in this place neither understand their religion, nor understand the duties of educational professionals. They never will either, as shown by Griffin’s statement above. They falsely believe that they are upholding “community standards,” when they are merely acting with ignorance.

  20. David Davis is a fine man and good principal, and we are a gentle, peaceful, Christian, family-oriented community,” said Bill Griffin, 73 and a lifelong Ponce de Leon resident who is no relation to the district superintendent. “We aren’t out to tar and feather anyone.” And the bigfoot rubber suit is a real animal.

    There is nothing gentle or peaceful in telling a young girl she is immoral because she is lesbian. There is nothing fine or good about outing a young woman and questioning her friends about their sexuality. I also question this community’s commitment to the bible on their own terms. The bible calls handling the skin of pig an abomination in the long list of abominations. Have they disbanded and admonished their football team for committing multiple abominations?

    I notice that the parent who was decent enough to stop the cruelty is now hated and accused of costing the district money. This is typical. It’s not the person committing illegal and immoral behavior who’s to blame for the consequence of their behavior, it’s th person who stood up to them. I applaud this parent and the other kids who supported “Jane Doe”. They have a lot of heart and great courage.

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