Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Answer: Oregon Teacher Fired For Answering Question From Student on His Sexual Orientation

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”

  1. “That’s just the way that it is.”(Clay)

    Perhaps that is the way it is for some members of the older generations or younger wing-nuts but for the majority of members within the younger generations such attitudes are simply foolish.

    The culture is changing … either adapt or be left in the dust of perpetual ignorance and impotent frustration.

  2. Clay,

    I for one would never talk about my love of Opera with children, nor the fact that my wife is shorter than the norm (5’2). I’m pretty sure there’s a law against talking about being allergic to artichokes to minors.

  3. Any time you are outside what is accepted as the norm you are going to be under scrutiny for what ever you say or do. You are under a different standard than everyone else. That’s just the way it is. It sounds like the student teacher was ‘politicizing’ his response to the student when he talked about the fact that he couldn’t get married because he was gay. Should that have even been brought up in the first place? Perhaps he was carrying a grudge or was angry about it and was merely venting his frustrations. What ever the reason, if he had kept this to himself nothing probably would have happened to him. Everyone, whether straight or gay, needs to be careful what they say or do around children. That’s just the way that it is.

  4. Elaine,
    I understand your position. As to Jim DeMint, he is just certifiable. He is a prime example why religion and government must not mix.

  5. Wouldn’t you love to see Jim DeMint as the Majority Leader in the Senate?

    From TPMMuckraker
    DeMint: Sexually Active Unmarried Women And Gay Teachers Should Be Barred From Classrooms
    Ryan J. Reilly | October 4, 2010

    Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) says that even though “no one” came to his defense in 2004 after he said that gay people and unwed mothers should be banned from teaching, “everyone” quietly told him that he shouldn’t back down from his position.

    He also implied that not banning gay people and women who have sex before marriage from teaching would be an attack on Christians, and defended his position on banning gay teachers because he holds the same position on women who have sex outside of marriage.

    “[When I said those things,] no one came to my defense,” he said, the Spartanberg Herald-Journal reported. “But everyone would come to me and whisper that I shouldn’t back down. They don’t want government purging their rights and their freedom to religion.”

    DeMint, one of the most conservative members of the Senate, spoke at the Greater Freedom Rally at First Baptist North Spartanburg, S.C. He was referring to comments he first made back in 2004. As the Huffington Post noted, he also said in 2004 that while he had his “personal beliefs,” local school boards should be able to decide whether to discriminate against gay and unwed pregnant teachers in a 2004 interview on “Meet the Press.”

    The Spartanberg Herald-Journal described the comments this way: “DeMint said if someone is openly homosexual, they shouldn’t be teaching in the classroom and he holds the same position on an unmarried woman who’s sleeping with her boyfriend — she shouldn’t be in the classroom.” DeMint did not apparently state his position on whether sexually active unmarried male teachers should be similarly removed from classrooms.

  6. rafflaw,

    My point about bringing up Jim DeMint and others with similar viewpoints was that some people don’t just have a problem with gay/lesbian sex–they also have a problem with unmarried female teachers having sex. Why no concern about unmarried male teachers having sex? I’d call that a double standard.

    I wasn’t suggesting the student teacher’s answer was sexually explicit or suggestive. I just happen to believe it wasn’t any of the child’s business. That’s all.

  7. Elaine,
    I am not saying that the student teacher had to answer the question, but the answer that he gave was truthful and not sexually explicit or suggestive. Just because DeMint and some other school administrators might have a puritanical view of sex and homosexuality does not mean that they are right.

  8. I was a teacher for a loooonnnng time. I didn’t spend valuable class time talking about my summer vacations or my husband. I don’t understand why some people feel that teachers/student teachers should have to answer students’ questions about their personal lives. I valued my privacy when I was a teacher. That’s why I chose not to live in the community where I taught. I happen to think it was none of that child’s business why Mr. Stambaugh wasn’t married.

    You may find that–like Senator Jim DeMint–some school systems/school administrators would not be happy with heterosexual female teachers who got pregnant outside of wedlock.
    It just so happens that a lot of people in this country have a puritanical view of sex.

  9. My wife has been a teacher for 20 plus years and she has multiple instances of parent’s gone wild. I see no reason in not answering this 10 year old with the truth. He did not answer in any suggestive manner or go into biological issues. The best way to handle kids curiosity is respond truthfully in a matter of fact manner. This student teacher has already learned a valuable lesson into how unsupportive some administrators can be and how nuts some parents are.

  10. Stambaugh should have punted the marriage question. It’s completely inappropriate and the idea that it’s unusual for a 23 year old to be unmarried seems odd. The school district seems weasily. I wonder who this parent was. School administrators don’t listen very closely to every parent, but this one is at least in the second string of town influentials (first string and things would have stopped at the pony tail).

  11. blhlls
    1, October 4, 2010 at 6:37 pm
    I just don’t get the reasoning that says when a male teacher says “my wife and I went to Yellowstone over the summer,” it’s discussing summer vacation, but when a male teacher says “my husband and I went to Yellowstone over the summer,” it’s discussing his sex life.


    Excellent illustration of the hypocrisy …

  12. I just don’t get the reasoning that says when a male teacher says “my wife and I went to Yellowstone over the summer,” it’s discussing summer vacation, but when a male teacher says “my husband and I went to Yellowstone over the summer,” it’s discussing his sex life.

Comments are closed.