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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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  1. "Breeds like cancer"

    wait... cancer breeds? dude that's awesome, I didn't know cancer reproduced.

    Posted by: Dennis | Jan 12, 2012 3:02:53 PM

  2. What an ugly...

    Posted by: toddy | Jan 12, 2012 5:05:53 PM

  3. 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.

    Posted by: a.mcewen | Jan 12, 2012 6:03:26 PM

  4. @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.

    Posted by: Kaitlyn | Jan 12, 2012 8:47:57 PM

  5. 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?

    Posted by: Jack | Jan 13, 2012 11:41:08 AM

  6. 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.

    Posted by: anon | Jan 13, 2012 1:14:53 PM

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