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Teacher Receives Settlement in Anti-Gay Discrimination Lawsuit

Emmit Hancock, a fifth-grade teacher in the Ravenswood City school district in San Francisco's Bay Area who in October 2005 filed a discrimination lawsuit alleging he was fired after telling his classroom that he is gay received a $41,000 settlement in the case.

The San Jose Mercury News reports: " The dispute was sparked on the first day of school in 2004. Hancock, a new teacher, said he heard some boys on the playground calling each other derogatory names used to describe homosexual men. When he approached and told them not to use those words, he said they asked him why and whether he was gay. Hancock said he told them he had been gay for about five years but was now married. Soon after, word of Hancock's bisexuality spread through the school and eventually to parents, who called and complained to the school and the district. Hancock claimed school officials hardly let him teach until Principal Robin Miller asked him to resign."

The school has always claimed that Hancock was fired because he "simply wasn't cutting it as a first-year teacher."

Said Hancock: "It traumatized me. They really made it seem like the parents were really upset with me."

Ravenswood and teacher who told students he was gay settle sex discrimination suit [san jose mercury news]

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  1. Who ruins children's lives? Who spreads hatred? Who stick their bigoted noses in where it doesn't concern them? Straight parents. Always f*ckin' straight parents, ruining the world for everyone.

    Posted by: Strepsi | Feb 8, 2008 9:21:01 AM


  2. "Hancock said he told them he had been gay for about five years but was now married."

    So it is a phase! I wouldn't fire someone for saying this but it's rather a muddy explanation to a child's inquiry. Two choices when you grow up, children: gay or married.

    Posted by: Ernie | Feb 8, 2008 11:03:57 AM


  3. Often men who claim to "turn straight", or "leave" their bisexual lives to be with a woman are kinda' anti-gay (atleast the ones I've seen on TV talk shows are). The fact that this teacher risked so much to challenge anti-gay slurs in pre-adolescent boys is admirable...in a way. He didn't have to try to correct the homophobia of the little "caint pee straight yet" boys. So, many teachers don't. Hell, some so-called teachers lead the homophobic harassment against an openly gay child.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Feb 8, 2008 11:18:21 AM


  4. Wait, he's married to a woman? Was he ever gay or did he just say that to make a point?

    Posted by: Michael | Feb 8, 2008 11:49:24 AM


  5. I actually know Mr. Hancock - and I heard about the lawsuit when it happened. I was mystified as to why he decided to become an elementary school teacher because he's not the kind of person who understands discretion about what he does and says to anyone - children included. No one should be prevented from teaching school simply because they are (or were?) gay - but I would bet he didn't handle the issue in the best way with either the students or the adults involved. The fact that he received such a small settlement suggests the judge might have seen the situation was not quite as unjustified as it might appear at first.

    Posted by: sfguy | Feb 8, 2008 12:36:26 PM


  6. Just more ammunition for the "ex-gay" industry. "See, even a man from the bowels of Sodom can turn from "the homosexual lifestyle" and become a happy husband."

    Though I appreciate this man's attempt to stop bigotry through education I have no doubt that this story will unfortunately be on every anti-gay, "ex-gay" and right-wing religious blog before the sun goes down.

    It has all the bits that these bigots love to misinterpret, misrepresent, manipulate, sensationalize and misuse to stir up the bigots. By the time it's over this story will be about a teacher pushing homosexuality, attacking good christian kids and limiting their freedom of speech and as proof that gay people aren't really gay they're just misbehaving heterosexuals.

    Posted by: ZEKE | Feb 8, 2008 2:36:32 PM


  7. When I taught 8th grade English in Virginia, I had to deflect questions all the time: "Are you gay?" I simply said, "It's not really any of your business,is it? And i bet your parents wouldn't like to hear that you asked me that question when you're supposed to be learning about indirect objects today." It's a razor's edge in the classroom these days. Trust.

    Posted by: Daniel | Feb 8, 2008 10:43:52 PM


  8. When I taught 8th grade English in Virginia, I had to deflect questions all the time: "Are you gay?" I simply said, "It's not really any of your business,is it? And i bet your parents wouldn't like to hear that you asked me that question when you're supposed to be learning about indirect objects today." It's a razor's edge in the classroom these days. Trust.

    Posted by: Daniel | Feb 8, 2008 10:45:24 PM


  9. I've taught at a college a few times to computer science students and I'd tell them early on that, "I'm not a programmer, but I'm married to one." Then later I'd mention my husband. I loved watching the faces in the room react: "oh...." (light dawns) to "I knew it!" and nary a negative comment or reaction that I saw. Yes, I know this is college, but it was in Tacoma!

    Posted by: David R. | Feb 8, 2008 11:11:50 PM


  10. I have been a teacher for more than 25 years and it comes up time to time. I usually deflect it, but I don't deny it either. One kid said, "It's OK, I have a gay uncle." I just smiled, not saying one way or the other, but kind of implying thanks. Once a student called me a faggot and two football players I had taught for two years had to be pulled off the small boy by me before the two almost beat him to a bloody pulp. I work with middle school this year in Atlanta and the questions come up, usually, "Are you married?" I give them a no and must confirm to them that I am gay. My teaching assignment, experience, and use of humor make me popular with students and parents. The administration even mentioned it at a faculty meeting. The students will move on to a high school with a gay-straight alliance and from what I have heard a very tolerate atmosphere. The high school turned out Ryan Seacrest, who flames over the American Idol each week.

    Posted by: Georgiaguy | Feb 11, 2008 1:11:38 PM


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