Student Suspended for Saying Homosexuality is Wrong: VIDEO

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A Texas student has been suspended for telling a friend during a class discussion of homosexuality, "I'm a Christian and, to me, being homosexual is wrong."

Fourteen-year-old Dakota Ary, an honor student and football player, has become an instant cause celebre among conservatives. Liberty Counsel, a right-wing defense firm, helped him clear his permanent record and get the suspension reduced to a day:

Ary's lawyer, Matthew Krause, said the suspension was unjustified and that Ary is entitled to express his opinion on homosexuality in school.

"Just because you walk through the schoolhouse doors does not mean you shed your 1st Amendment rights," Krause said in a statement. "Dakota wasn't disrupting class. He wasn't bullying or harassing anybody. He was just stating his personal opinion on a topic somebody brought up and in a civil and respectful manner." (...)

It all began in Ary's German class, where the teacher was leading the students in a discussion about religion in Germany.

According to a statement from Liberty Counsel, one student asked what Germans thought about homosexuality in relation to religion. Another student asked to hear the German translation of "lesbian."

That's when Ary turned to a friend and said, "I'm a Christian and, to me, being homosexual is wrong," the teenager said in a television interview on Fox News earlier this week.  

"It wasn't directed to anyone except my friend who was sitting behind me," he said. "I guess [the teacher] heard me and started to yell about it."

I'd be more inclined to symphatize if the conservatives showed any interest whatever in the endemic homophobia of the American school system and the gay children committing suicide because of bullying.

Nonetheless, I think Ary acted within his First Amendment rights by making a private remark to a nearby classmate in response to an open question about religion and homosexuality. And the teacher could have handled it the right way by addressing the remark calmly, and using it to start up a civil discussion. Merely suppressing an opinion does no one any good - it certainly doesn't change minds.

Did he deserve a suspension at all? Or am I all wrong?


Student Suspended for Saying Gay Is Wrong:

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  1. @ambrose

    So the entire story is wrong?

    This was NOT a German language class?

    This was a sociology class?

    Why would he know the German word for "lesbian"?

    Is he saying it is the same kid that scribbled on the gay men kissing pic that he put on the wall?

    I'm totally confused now.

    I want to hear this story from someone not the kid or the teacher because the two stories are so extreme in their differences.

    Actually, I don't. It almost makes me want to go back to teaching just so I can make a difference by handling things differently.

    Posted by: Rin | Sep 24, 2011 11:44:12 PM

  2. @Ambrose,

    He's a foreign language teacher, not a sociology teacher. That's the schools website right there and it lists him under modern languages-German.

    So, back to my original question

    Why was a foreign language teacher speaking about:

    1) Religion in Germany
    2) Sociology
    3) What's the German word for Lesbian?

    I know as foreign language teachers that from time to time we digress into "history" when teaching a subject, but at 14 he was in "Beginner German", ergo, they should be learning stuff like:

    Ich liebe apfelkuchen


    Ich heisse Rintintin.

    Hitler, Kafka...that comes when you are German proficient enough to read German with only the help of a dictionary.

    IF you are diverging from language arts to allow this sort of dialog in your class, then my advice is:

    Go hard or go home.

    Posted by: Rin | Sep 25, 2011 12:12:26 AM

  3. ok its not proof if there quoting him from here sorry

    Posted by: eds | Sep 25, 2011 1:12:21 AM

  4. Did more research. Not only does school list him as a German teacher, but the teacher has website where he is called "Herr Franks".


    1) Original story about this being German class is correct.
    2) GLBQT story where he is sociology teacher is wrong.
    3)If teacher is gay, ie Ambrose's story then he probably got excited that the kids were interested in gay rights and Germany and went off lesson topic (kids want to talk about everything but foreign language grammar)
    5) Student whispering in class was huge buzzkill, plus whispering
    6) Kid is honors student

    My theory is that the class wanted to find out German curse words or homophobic slurs and tricked a nice teacher into going along with it--sorry kids DO this-- the teacher was excited to discuss it, then goody two shoes Valedictorian in the running shares his opinion loud enough for teacher to hear. Story goes downhill from there.

    ISS means having a 0 in every class for every day you are in it, meaning his GPA is blown for the year--well, us nerds know that you wont be valedictorian or in top 5 if you get Bs even one semester.

    Mom gets lawyer when school doesn't comply so that he is still in running for top 5.

    That's Sherlock Rinnie's theory.

    Did I mention the big dog terrorizing the town yet?

    Posted by: Rin | Sep 25, 2011 1:34:39 AM

  5. i take it back it wasnt their website i cant find any proof the group even exists at all and the only "proof" of the story i can find at all are posts in the comments on gay websites by the same person so try again

    Posted by: eds | Sep 25, 2011 1:35:16 AM

  6. Voice an anti-jewish or anti-black statement in class, get reprimanded and suspended, then summon your mummy and an attorney on your side to defend your bigotry and demand an apology from your teacher and school .... Mummy taught little bigot to think he is King and his "opinions" should have no consequences ....

    Posted by: Bembo | Sep 25, 2011 2:07:17 AM

  7. I don't think he should have been suspended/given detention just for thinking it's wrong, no matter how ludicrous I think it is. Considering some Christians aren't against homosexuality, I think it's a bit weird he seemed to say that /because/ he's one, he's against it, but whatever.

    That being said... someone asked for the translation of a word and /that/ was his response? I could understand if they were discussing homosexuality, but simply asking for the word and his responding that sounds rather offensive.

    Posted by: Yuki | Sep 25, 2011 2:20:32 AM

  8. I will point out that when someone comments that they 'believe homosexuality is wrong' in the classroom, there's probably a gay kid who hears it and is that much less likely to come out and that much more likely to become depressed.

    As for his story -- assuming we believe his rendition of the events -- no, he probably shouldn't have been suspended. A simple, "in this classroom, we accept others for their differences" would suffice.

    Posted by: Ryan | Sep 25, 2011 3:41:06 AM

  9. The kid has the right to say what he wants, so long as what he says does not (among other qualifications) promote violence ("gays should be killed"), defamation "most, if not all gays are child molesters"), or constitute 'fighting words," i.e. words specifically meant to incite hatred or violence.

    His (undisputed) words:"I'm a Christian and, to me, being homosexual is wrong," are well within the bounds of the First Amendment.

    The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech. It does not guarantee freedom FROM speech which you, I or even James Dobson feels to be offensive unless it meets the above (severely abridged... I'm not a constitutional scholar) guidelines.

    Posted by: Mike | Sep 25, 2011 3:42:55 AM

  10. Yuki: He's repeating what he's learned at home. His beliefs may change or they may not as he gains maturity and is exposed to a wider slice of humanity. Desegregation in the US at large was preceded by desegregation in the military (odd that it's happening in reverse with gay marriage and gays in the military, but that's another thread).

    As to his response to the translation of the world 'lesbian' and his response? I know quite a few adults who would respond the same way--i.e. just hearing the word gay, homosexual or lesbian uttered in a non-judgemental way brings forth the compensatory judgement that 'it's wrong.'

    Ryan: I agree with you also, but people (and by people I mean everyone) will always have their preferences and prejudices, valid or not. They will or will not like gay people. Or Asians. Gingers. African Americans. Geeks. Jews. Hispanics... etc. Unless you're Gandhi (and even if you are, since Mo was apparently not entirely without prejudice himself) you've got some prejudices.

    I fail to see what punishing this kid for peacefully stating his beliefs accomplishes. He's not throwing bombs or beating anyone senseless. Not tying him to a fence and leaving him to die. He's not shooting someone in cold blood. He's stating his current beliefs without malice, incitefulness or spite.

    As such, his speech is (or should be) protected and he should not have been punished.

    Posted by: Mike | Sep 25, 2011 4:22:29 AM

  11. Gay students and teachers should be protected and should not have to be punished.

    MY what a radical idea!

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Sep 25, 2011 9:16:40 AM

  12. I don't see the problem, technically. He said 'to me, homosexuality is wrong'. That I totally disagree with but he did say 'TO ME' he didn't say 'it is per se'. That's his opinion. I disagree with it. I also think he has dead eyes and looks bored and vacant but that's my opinion too.

    Posted by: EM | Sep 25, 2011 9:42:12 AM

  13. So if this is just about a student's right to freedom of speech in the classroom - I wonder if it would be ok for him to express, in his opinion, that it was ok for husbands to hit their wives or for priests to molest children?
    But I agree, he shouldn't have been suspended - he & his parents should be forced to go into counselling instead, to overcome their antisocial homophobic impulses.

    Posted by: Khola | Sep 25, 2011 9:54:25 AM

  14. @Goober Peas,

    I'm aware they're called technically 'middle schools'**. I have a habit of referring to them as as 'Jr' H.S. That the best you can do, smart-a**? Lecture me about the difference between 'middle' school and 'Jr' H.S.? B*tch.

    The rest of your comment is mostly pure B.S. and highly dependent on region, state, school district, public vs private, etc.,

    Posted by: ratbastard | Sep 25, 2011 10:36:18 AM

  15. Decent, even excellent, reporting of the true, basic facts of a news story is unfortunately rare, even in 'reputable' media outlets. It would be nice to hear the simple, true, accurate facts of this story. ALL news media are full of inaccuracies, often quite blatant, that a decent reporter and/or editor should have picked up on.

    And I can't help but feel bureaucracies use that 'we can't talk about this' line, not only because they want to avoid liability, but because they don't want to publicly admit failure or that they effed up.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Sep 25, 2011 10:44:39 AM

  16. @: Khola,

    Yeah Khola, we should have 're-education' camps for those who refuse to follow the party line. Maybe we here in America can set up extra-judicial 'human rights' tribunals like they have in Canada. Great idea.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Sep 25, 2011 10:48:24 AM

  17. "Re-eduction" camps wouldn't work for you, dear.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Sep 25, 2011 11:03:46 AM

  18. RATBASTARD - Do you feel the Fox story fairly represented this story and presented full and complete facts? Or do you believe significant facts were omitted or not investigated and there may be a rush to judgment?

    I think the latter - I suspect there is more to this story, a side we know nothing about.

    Teachable moment lost!

    Posted by: Fred | Sep 25, 2011 11:03:54 AM

  19. @David E.

    Bullying should always be punished in my book.

    However, engaging in debate is highly educational and fruitful. Both sides MUST be represented in debate. When I was the debate coach I sometimes forced students to take the opposite position of their own--they learned far more that way. Anyone afraid of debate, anyone who thinks there should be no debate, or that debate is harmful has issues they need to address within themselves.

    It is nothing to me to go back and forth with @Rick, though I find much of what he says offensive, because part of being human is learning to accept that not everyone will be your biggest fan or even nice to you. The ancient Romans believed that your enemies, not your friends, made you who you were. They were not wrong in this.

    No child comes out of the box with fully formed ideas. Wisdom is a byproduct of intellect and experience. He's 14 years old, and the teacher silencing him instead of engaging him was the wrong thing to do as an EDUCATOR.

    And I will say this again, a foreign language teacher is paid to teach students the basic fundamentals of a language. The fact that a German teacher (see my earlier link) was even talking about sociology, religion, and homosexuality was irresponsible.

    IF he allowed the students to redirect coursework to that extent, then he should have gone the full monty and had a debate.

    IF he redirected them to a discussion about religion, sexuality, etc in Germany as though they are space aliens and not like everyone else then he needs the principal to shake a few things into his head.

    First year students of any language learn basics. German students in first year don't read "Die Verfandlung" they don't read "Mein Kampf". They learn to say:

    Abby geht nach Hause.

    Abby liebt apfeln.

    Ich heisse Rinnie.

    They do not learn the word for "lesbian".

    He is either fundamentally ignorant of the 14 year old immature brain or...I have no idea really how a language class disintegrated into this topic.

    But it did, and he should have allowed an organic, educated conclusion.

    Posted by: Rin | Sep 25, 2011 11:14:51 AM

  20. @David Ehrenstein,

    Mr. Ehrenstein, you would have made a great Nazi or Soviet bureaucrat.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Sep 25, 2011 11:19:23 AM

  21. @Fred,

    I said ALL news media frequently make GLARING errors in reporting, and/or are simply lazy and/or biased reporting the facts. Not just Fox.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Sep 25, 2011 11:20:57 AM

  22. Step away from the pocket mirror before someone gets hurt "Ratbastard"

    This wasn't a debate Rin. This was a class. The student vebally attacked the teacher because the teacher is gay.

    What part of this don't you understand?

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Sep 25, 2011 11:21:59 AM

  23. I strongly believe that he as the right to state his opinion on homosexuality. The teacher was clearly incorrect in her decision. Strategically, it gave the christian right something to holler about. I am gay and fully believe in free speech. I am baffled that this ever happened, particularly in TX. I question whether this story is true.

    Posted by: David Jarrett | Sep 25, 2011 11:39:42 AM

  24. RIN - I took German in HS, 30 years ago. The instructor included lessons on the culture. It made the class interesting. Same thing happened in college, when I took Spanish. It helped explain why certain words are used. Culture provided context and facilitated learning.

    Quite the debate going on here. I keep thinking, "there's your version, there's my version, and then there's the truth." The kid could be an angel, merely and politely expressing a point of view, or he might be a total a**hole (and yes, 14 year-olds are very capable of acting as a**holes, even if we don't always hold them culpable) who deliberately baited the instructor. I wish that the reports were reliable, and contained all of the facts. One way or another, it's a story with great potential for exploitation.

    Posted by: TJ | Sep 25, 2011 12:44:24 PM

  25. The boy was expressing his opinion based upon what he was taught at home. He was not making a statement of "Fact". He was only expressing what his ignorant parents taught him.

    Posted by: Jerry6 | Sep 25, 2011 12:46:50 PM

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