School Board Moves to Fire Viki Knox, NJ Teacher Who Called Homosexuality a ‘Perverted Sin’ on Facebook

Remember Viki Knox, the New Jersey teacher who came under fire last September for calling homosexuality a "perverted sin" that "breeds like cancer" and attacking a school display recognizing Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender History Month?

Viki_knoxThe Union Township School District has made its first steps toward firing her:

The Union Township school board has filed tenure charges against Viki Knox, the high school English teacher whose anti-gay remarks on Facebook raised a firestorm over her free speech rights and her role as a public school teacher.

The board formally filed the charges against Knox in late December, a step that begins the lengthy and costly process to fire Knox, school board president Ray Perkins said. He could not comment on the findings of the district's three-month investigation of Knox's conduct.

Wrote Knox on her Facebook page:

"Homosexuality is a perverted spirit that has existed from the beginning of creation. The word of God refers to it often. That's if you believe the Word to be truly God's intended blueprint for his people. I have friends and loved ones who are practicing/ living as homosexuals. Yes I love can care about them. We hug and exchange gifts. We have family dinners. But how they live and their actions, behaviors -CHOICES are against the nature and character of God! Do I tell me so? Yes, of course. Do I treat them bad? If course not! Jesus never did that to ANYONE he meant. He spoke to them of their situation and offered them life eternal. He didn't say it was okay but we've all sinned and come short if God's will for us daily. That's why we Christians true followers pray, repent, and spend time with Christ daily. The Word of God instructs us to die daily to our flesh-meaning our will. What we want; what feels good to us; what we like; what we can rationalize and justify. I do not pretend to know ALL things. Nor do I pretend not to have biases, failings and faults. But I know sin and it breeds like cancer!"

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Comments

  1. Peater says

    If what is above is exactly what she posted on facebook, then as a high school teacher, they should be able to fire her just for her command of the english language, grammar or at least spelling.

  2. says

    .. What the teacher writes on facebook should have nothing to do with her job. The superintendent of schools must be an arrogany homo to allow action to continue to fire here. Also, it’s a waste of precious education dollars. SCOTUS will protect her free speech in the end.

  3. Sergio says

    I love when bigots like her say “I do not pretend to know ALL things.” As if this statement justifies her absolute views.

    And I agree with the previous posts on her horrible command of the English language. Teachers like her — if we can call her an actual teacher — is the reason we have so many students entering college needing remediation with their reading and writing skills.

    Fire the B**ch!!!!

  4. Continuum says

    OK — As an English teacher her lack of grammatical skills should be grounds for firing.

    What she said on her personal Facebook page, maybe not so much.

    You know that she’ll become a martyr for the rightwing crazies otherwise known as Christianists.

    Perhaps a transfer to some job where she has no student interaction, no responsibility for any student’s well-being would be reasonable. At least, she wouldn’t become another so-called martyr.

  5. says

    “What the teacher writes on facebook should have nothing to do with her job.”

    Actually, it should. Facebook is a public forum. If you make extreme public statements that target a class of people (in this case, gay people) for denigration, then it calls into question your ability to treat those students fairly, and it creates a hostile environment in your classroom, because your views have been shouted in a public square (i.e. on social media). Like it or not, what you say publicly on social media is a reflection of your professional as well as private self. You’re free to be a bigot, but it may come with consequences, as Miss Viki has discovered.

  6. TyN says

    I guess she forgot that interracial marriage was illegal and unethical, and that the religion she’s so devoted to was forced upon her ancestors through slavery.

  7. Aulton says

    She made her choice.

    She needs to be fired, immediately. If not for her bigotry, then for her ineptitude as a teacher. I would say unemployment would teach her some humility, but considering that Christianity has already warped her mind, that is something I’m afraid she will never learn. At least the children will never have to endure her presence again.

    I also find it humorous that she would become a martyr due to her arrogance. Adults admit their mistakes and make amends, instead of insisting they are always in the right and viewing consequences for their actions as personal slights. Then again, Christians never were known for personal responsibility.

  8. Alex Parrish says

    Some posters here (and other places) seem to confuse “Freedom of speech” with “freedom from the consequences of that speech.” No one is saying that she shouldn’t be free to spout hate-speech for any one or anything she hates. She is — and the fact that she is not in jail for saying it proves that. She is not free, however, from the consequences of that speech. If you insult someone and they hit you, have they denied you freedom of speech? No — but you have reaped the consequences of that speech. Anyone in a job of public responsibility should know that there are limits to what they can espouse without accompanying consequences. She posted her hate-speech in a public forum and crossed that line. Just as you cannot bash an employer in the private sector and expect to keep your job, you cannot bash an employer in the public sector and expect no consequences. This is not denying her her free-speech rights. Second: She should be dismissed for her lack of command of English speech, grammar and punctuation. This is an English teacher? EGAD!

  9. Bob R says

    To me gross ignorance is a sin and what is obvious, in America at least, is that it “breeds like cancer”. This teacher (and I use that title verrry loosely) promotes the growth of ignorance and for that reason alone should not be certified as an educator.

    What is even more mind boggling is she is an “English” teacher. Her poor writing and speaking skills, her total lack of proper noun/verb agreement and punctuation and poor use of tense should make a legitimate “English” teacher cringe. Based on knowledge and skill of her subject alone, she should not be allowed to teach English in any public school setting.

    Ms. Viki lends credence to the old adage “He can does, he who can’t, teaches.” There is certainly enough evidence to show Ms. Viki has limited command of the English language, a subject she is tenured to teach.

    This is one example of what is wrong with tenure. This woman obviously did not pass any competency exams, and any professional evaluations or assessments of her skills were either missing or ignored. Did she just put in her time to gain tenure? Perhaps this situation should result in an overall look at how tenure is awarded?

    Regardless of her ignorant and bigoted religious views, her apparent lack of ability as a teacher should be sufficient to support her termination. We need to get incompetent teachers out of the classrooms and pay competent teachers a salary worthy of their verifiable skills.

  10. says

    And she should be fired. She deserves to be fired. How sad that any child or student was ever under her tutelage. How incompetent of the school officials (who should also be dismissed) for allowing such a person to (obviously attempt) teach.

  11. candide001 says

    Does anyone know if they found evidence of her expressing these views in the classroom and not just on Facebook? Zealots like her are rarely able to control themselves from sharing their “truth.” That would make the case against her that much easier to prove.

  12. jamal49 says

    This homosexual is out of practise. Any good refresher courses out there to, um, bone-up on being queer?

    I think the ACLJ is going to sue on her behalf for her right to free speech. OK. That’s fair. But, I want to go to a christian academy and declare that the Bible and Jesus are half-assed, warmed-over myths that have caused tremendous spiritual, emotional and psychological harm to billions of people over the centuries.

  13. DRG says

    There is no case to prove. No matter what job you have, employers have the right to consider a persons character when hiring or firing individuals. It’s even standard paractice for Human Resources to google or search applicants for any history of social/news media coverage when hiring. If they find anything that the employer would consider bad character or in opposition to the business’ intrests or values, you will not get the job.

    If you are already hired by an employer and you speak/post things in the public sphere, they can consider what you say as part of your character and it can legally be grounds for termination if it jeopardizes the employers interests. These days many people are fired from what they blog, tweet, facebook, or tumble on the internet. You are considered a representative of your business even when you are not working. That’s why peopel are always being fired for whatthey say or write in public. Most people don’t worry about this because they are not famous or in a position where their words come back to their employer.

    So her being a teacher does not matter in the least. It was her fault that she didn’t have her FB profile locked down and the the public/students became aware of her controversial views and statements.

    So sorry BuzzLOL, but SCOTUS won’t do anything, because the school/state is within their rights to terminate the bigoted teacher who has disrupted the learning enviornment and the mission of a public school. I’m sure she can find a job teaching at a Catholic school which would most likely approve of her horrible character.

  14. Jack says

    @Alex Parrish:

    Your post is so full of First Amendment misunderstanding, that it’s ridiculous.

    1)You could make the argument that just like being hit isn’t denying you free speech, neither is being tossed in jail (obvious problem of state vs. private actors which makes this argument even worse, ignored for this purpose)

    2)When the government fires you from your job as a result of your speech, that is enough to raise a First Amendment question. Been held time and time again. The “you have a right to free speech but no right to be a policeman” doctrine of the Adler v. Board of Education era has long since been overturned by the courts.

    3)False comparison between this and insubordination. She wasn’t bashing her employer, and I don’t even know where you got that from.

    4)Since the speech was not pursuant to her job duties, it falls under the Pickering-Connick test of the public employee speech doctrine. As she was speaking as a private citizen, on a matter of public concern, the employer has to show that there was justification for treating her differently than a member of the public, i.e., that the speech:

    (i)impairs discipline by superiors or harmony with co-workers,
    (2)impacts close working relationships for which personal loyalty and confidence are necessary, or
    (3)impedes performance of the speaker’s duties or interfere with the employer’s operations.

    Now, is there an argument that what she posted does impede her ability to teach? Sure. There’s also a counter argument that what she posted expressed love and care, rather than hatred. And the argument that she has the ability to treat all children equally in the course of her duties, notwithstanding her views.

    The balance is a fine one, and not clear cut as you think. To say there is no First Amendment issue is completely ignorant of reality. I find it funny that people spout off against others who encourage hesitation and contemplation about the true implications of firing someone for something like this, when they clearly don’t know the first thing about First Amendment jurisprudence. I’m not saying that the argument for lawful firing isn’t THERE and reasonable, but that to say there is no conceivable issue/alternative argument is myopic and foolish.

    5)Yes, she should be fired for sheer incompetence for having a level of English competency lower than that of her students.

    2)

  15. says

    And I might point out that she was writing about her job. The bulletin board she criticized was at her place of employment – i.e. the school. It was a totally inappropriate thing for her to do.

  16. Kaitlyn says

    @Jack While your argument is very well worded, I disagree with a couple of those points.

    3.) On her Facebook, she posted a picture of a display that her employer, Union High School, put up to celebrate LGBT History Month with a caption that the display made her physically ill. Since she posted a picture from her workplace and it was identified on her page where she worked, to me, that is bashing he employer, even if it’s not directly.

    4.) The speech is absolutely persuant to her job duties. At a meeting that was held shortly afte this happened, 2 students came forward and stated the this teacher asked a student to leave the classroom because the student was wearing a rainbow bracelet. There were also reports that she made homophobic comments and religious comments while in the classroom. If these are true, then her ability to do her job is absolutely an issue. Especially when NJ has instituted an anti-bullying law. How can a student go to this teacher if someone was bullying them for being gay knowing how she feels towards homosexuals?

    I understand that under the First Amendment she has the right to say what she wants, no matter how petty, inconsiderate, rude, and misguided her statements may be. But that doesn’t guarantee that she gets to keep her job after saying something so foolish.

  17. Jack says

    Kaitlyn:

    If the allegations in your response prove to be true, then I agree that the argument that her posting seriously harms the trust and ability to do her job is more compelling than the counter-argument.

    However, your last paragraph is what I am fighting against here. Blanket statements like “you have the right to free speech but not the right to keep your government job” is just flat-out false as a generalization. In SOME cases, yes, matters of public concern spoken as a private citizen can get you fired. However, in many more cases, you can say something publicly and still have the right to keep your job.

    It’s no answer to say “firing someone isn’t depriving them of free speech rights,” when courts have held that in fact, retaliatory firing based on protected speech IS a constitutional injury. Not in all cases, but in many. So stay away from the blanket “firing doesn’t violate the First Amendment” generalizations, and realize that in fact the issue is much more nuanced and complicated.

    As a civil liberties attorney, it drives me insane when people are ignorant of their rights. How can we protect them when people don’t even know what they mean?

  18. anon says

    Jack. She also has protections as a union member, which means, among other things, that any proceeding must first be arbitrated. The union contract could easily stipulate that she would be protected from anything she does off-duty that was legal. Her civil rights and govt. employee obligations will not enter into it until later, and then we’re into really big bucks. I think the case will move ahead for a while until the counterclaim of wasting taxpayer money pushes the political pendulum the other way. I don’t think we’ll see a test of your brief any time soon.

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