Student teacher, Seth Stambaugh, appears to be subject to a new policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell . . . and don’t answer” regarding his sexual orientation. Stambaugh truthfully answered the question of a student about his being gay and was promptly re-assigned due to objections from a parent. He is now suing for discrimination.
A fourth grader asked Stambaugh if he was married and he answered he was not. The student then pressed the question on why he was not married. He replied that it was not legal for him to marry another man. The student then asked if that meant that he would hang out with guys and he answered in the affirmative. A parent was told of the exchange and reportedly objected to the school. District administrators then told Lewis & Clark College to find Stambaugh, 23, another school. His attorney also says that the same parent previously complained about his appearance, which includes a pony tail.
Beaverton School District spokeswoman Maureen Wheeler insists that it was a proper decision due to “concerns were about the professional judgment and age appropriateness.”
For its part, Lewis & Clark stated the obvious problem of allowing heterosexual teachers to answer such questions but not homosexual teachers. Scott Fletcher, Dean of the Graduate School of Education and Counseling noted “[t]here is no doubt that the issue of GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) teachers coming out in elementary and secondary schools is unjustly complicated by a heteronormative culture.”
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.
Source: Oregon Live
Kudos: Bill S.
34 thoughts on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Answer: Oregon Teacher Fired For Answering Question From Student on His Sexual Orientation”
I think you’ve hit on the important point. No teacher should talk about their personal sexual life in a classroom. First, it’s nobody’s business and second someone is always available to be offended and lawsuits become just one more expense school systems don’t need.
10-year-olds often ask questions that have to be answered with less specifics than those an older child will readily understand. Some adults don’t even understand this topic.
Sorry. I should have reread your post before I winked at you.
I taught in a school system where there were several gay and lesbian teachers who were “out of the closet.” There were even two lesbian teachers who co-habitated in the community who taught in the same building. The administrators and teachers knew the teachers were gay and lesbian. I’m sure many of the parents did too. We never had any problems. Those teachers didn’t try to hide anything–neither did they talk about their sexual orientation in the classroom.
He has a lawyer looking into all this … I’d be interested in knowing what direction this situation takes and where Seth Stambaugh is a year from now. He gets added to my follow-up list.
Blouise is correct. Seth Stambaugh was NOT a teacher. He was a “student teacher.” He was not an employee of the Beaverton School District. He couldn’t be fired. I don’t know what policies the school district has in place with regard to student teachers. I doubt they’re the same as the policies that must be followed when problems arise for teachers who are employed in the school system.
One thing to consider is that the school district–and maybe the school and supervising teacher–might not have wanted to spend a lot of time and energy dealing with an angry parent over a student teacher situation.
“Lewis & Clark issued a statement Wednesday in which Scott Fletcher, Dean of the Graduate School of Education and Counseling, said part of the teacher training curriculum includes “how and when to disclose any personal information. There is no doubt that the issue of GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) teachers coming out in elementary and secondary schools is unjustly complicated by a heteronormative culture” — a belief system that assumes heterosexuality is the norm.”
It would be interesting to know what L & C teacher training about disclosing personal information consists of – and whether Mr. Stambaugh received and understood that training.
This seems like too much information for a 10 year old while there is no indication Mr. Stambaugh is concealing his sexual orientation as a general matter. NEI
As a “student teacher” he has very few rights. Perhaps he will decide to follow another career path and take himself of the politics that control so many school systems.
Parents can often be bigger bullies than their kids.
Cannonballs!!?? love it
It doesn’t sound like normal employer protocol was followed in removing this individual. If a decision was made on the basis of second hand information for the parent of another child, without investigation and without adherence to the school’s own procies, then the school would seem to be relying on the accuracy of hearsay from parents who may very will be motivated by prejudice.
If there is no evidence that the teacher is a pedophile or is trying to teach the dreaded “radical homosexual agenda”, then in absence of any other reason for removal, the decision was based on bias, and it allows parents to take a teacher’s job based on pretty a flimsy reason.
I wonder if all male teachers are put to the same standard and low level of cause for firing by the employer. Remembering that the vast majority of child sexual abuse comes at the hands of heterosexual males, many of whom are married to women. As well as several recent instances of women teachers abusing their positions to engage in sexual activities with young males, and for all we know young females.
Sometimes children make rude comments that are quite funny. It can be difficult trying to keep a straight face in front of them. Once, during my early years in teaching, a young student pointed to my chest and asked: “What do you call THEM…cannonballs?”
Some memories stay with me!
I read a few more accounts and in one account it was reported: “After that, says Perriguey, word of the short conversation apparently got back to parent who had previously complained about Stambaugh’s appearance. The parent called the school and threatened to remove his child from the classroom.” (source: Sarah Mirk, The Portland Mercury)
Note the “got back to” … indicates to me that said parent wasn’t present when the conversation took place.
Manners are very important and something that smooths a child’s way in any social setting but especially in school. A child can be as dumb as an ox but if he/she is well mannered, teachers will bend over backwards to help … probably because the majority of children are so ill-mannered.
I guess the earlier bird doesn’t always catch the worm.
Right you are, Elaine. I did see your comment and made the change. Thanks as always. JT
blhls is correct.
You wrote: “… sounds like a parent inspired/coordinated set-up. Normal fourth graders do not press such questions, and normal parents do not permit such bad manners.”
I thought that too–until I read the article Professor Turley provided a link to.
Quoting from the Oregon Live article: “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.”
Evidently, it wasn’t the parents of the child who had the conversation with Mr. Stambaugh who lodged the complaint.
I was a teacher for many years. You might be surprised by some of the poor manners/behavior some seemingly normal parents find acceptable. I was even taken aback a number of times by the rude behavior of parents.
I don’t think it’s any parent’s or student’s business why a teacher is/isn’t married or what a teacher’s sexual orientation is—unless one is a pedophile. I felt my personal life was a private matter. Just my opinion.
The news story describes the complaining person as a “parent of a student who overheard the conversation.” From this it appears that another student told a parent about the conversation, and the parent then complained.
they’re = their
Yep … I think the parents should be fired … they’re child removed from their residence and placed in a home wherein he/she will be taught good manners and respect for his elders … how’s that for controversial?
Bouise…..It appears you are firm on this issue…
“The student then pressed the question on why he was not married.”
“The student’s parents were listening to the exchange and reportedly objected to the school. … the same parent previously complained about his appearance, which includes a pony tail.”
… sounds like a parent inspired/coordinated set-up. Normal fourth graders do not press such questions, and normal parents do not permit such bad manners.
I want to know what this was supposed to mean? >>> “concerns were about the professional judgment and age appropriateness.”
From the description, it sounded like it was a very appropriate response to a 4th grader.
sounds more like the parents and school have some issues to deal with.
Yeah, because fourth graders instantly translate “hang out with” into “have sexual relationships with.”
For some reason I’m reminded of that guy we’ve all been stuck behind in line at a store. Something goes very slightly wrong with his transaction and he demands to speak to the manager and starts ranting about needing a full refund.
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