Discrimination | Education | News | West Virginia

Local Paper Publishes Racist, Homophobic Letter After Lesbian Teacher's Dismissal in West Virginia: VIDEO


Last week, the Lincoln County Board of Education voted to fire lesbian teacher Kelli Burns after three separate hearings, the Lincoln Journal reports:

In a series of claims regarding the situation, Burns told The Lincoln Journal, late last week, that she was comfortable exposing what she termed the "completely inexcusable trashing” of her sexuality and her "so-called lifestyle” by the school system. She further alleged that students had been forced to write submissions saying that she had "tried to turn them gay.” Burns expressed her overall dismay regarding the process in her comments to The Lincoln Journal. "What has this process taught our youngsters? Every day they stand and recite an anti-bullying pledge right after the Pledge of Allegiance. And then they watch for months one of their favorite and most successful teachers be bullied by some staff and administration. The fact is some students actually went on record to teachers and administrators, saying that they were tired of watching me be trashed and slandered and bullied in the classroom. It was brave of them and I admire them for that,” Burns said late last week.

The Journal itself is now coming under fire for publishing a letter it received regarding Burns' dismissal.

Said the letter, which was transcribed from a voicemail the paper received:

"We were really glad to hear that School Board is getting rid of them queers. The next thing is we need to get rid of all the n****rs, the spics, the kikes and the wops....You know even them Catholics, they are wrong as baby eaters...We need to clear them people out and have good, white, God fearing Christians and everybody else needs to be put to death for their abominations....We'll keep Lincoln County white and right. Thank you."

The Lincoln Journal posted a lengthy interview with Burns online about the letter and the dismissal.

Watch the interview, and a news report on the printing of the letter, AFTER THE JUMP...


Here's the Lincoln Journal speaking with fired teacher Kelli Burns:

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  1. This letter seems to be satire. At least, I hope it is. If it is, it's sort of brilliant.

    Posted by: Chip | Mar 21, 2013 7:39:40 PM

  2. West Virginia is one of the most homophobic shitholes in the country. You'd be amazed at how homophobic the people there are.

    Posted by: Pigs | Mar 21, 2013 7:45:30 PM

  3. As long as that letter is signed and not anonymous the letter needs to be published and the writer exposed.

    Posted by: Craig | Mar 21, 2013 7:49:54 PM

  4. Another school board dominated by religious crazies. Just like 90% of all others. And people still think it's a good idea to elect these low-level flunkies without any qualifications whatsoever.

    Posted by: Steve | Mar 21, 2013 7:54:42 PM

  5. Some people are blind to the hatreds around them. It is good to bring this out. Expose this dummie to the real world.

    Posted by: Ant | Mar 21, 2013 7:56:08 PM

  6. I'm sure if she's a good teacher she can find a job and get out of that hellhole.

    Posted by: greenfuzz | Mar 21, 2013 8:04:54 PM

  7. @Pigs while I certainly don't know enough about West Virginia to know if what you say is true or not your post reminded me of this former post which would seem to contradict you somewhat


    Posted by: Opinionated | Mar 21, 2013 8:07:21 PM

  8. It is hard to read the letter as other than ironical, because it more comprehensively covers the bases of hate than any one person usually can.

    Posted by: Bob | Mar 21, 2013 8:08:10 PM

  9. West Virginia, They put the "Hill" in Hillbilly.

    Once you are old enough to walk there really is no legitimate reason not to leave the place.

    Posted by: dearcomrade | Mar 21, 2013 8:20:07 PM

  10. Can you explain why the only epithet in that entire screed which couldn't be spelled out is the "n-word"? With the exception of queer, all the others are racial slurs just as much as the "n-word" is, so why is it OK to spell them out? And, I'm sure had he used the word faggot, that would have been spelled out completely too.

    Posted by: anonymous | Mar 21, 2013 8:24:27 PM

  11. Another immigrant taking a job from a good American? Who's irate about that?

    j/k but it was a little surprising to hear the brogue.

    Posted by: Alan | Mar 21, 2013 8:28:41 PM

  12. I wonder if the any of the local residents see the irony of this happening in a county founded in 1867 and named after our 16th President.

    Posted by: Jack | Mar 21, 2013 8:38:48 PM

  13. It would be interesting to know the background to this, because on the face of it it seems to be an out and out witchhunt, full of unsupported and even silly accusations. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that a local church or churches were behind it.

    At first I thought the comment the paper printed must surely be parody, someone pointing out how ridiculous that kind of bigotry is and how prejudice against gays is just one on a LONG list of other targets. But they play the actual message during the interview with Ms Burns and it doesn't *sound* like the person is being anything other than a bigoted cretin, no joking around. I could be wrong but that's how it sounded to me.

    In comparison, Ms Burns seems educated, articulate, and clear-headed, someone who would be a good teacher. Someone really needs to shine a light on this situation and stop allowing the school board to hide behind unsubstantiated anonymous allegations to get at their real agenda.

    Posted by: Caliban | Mar 21, 2013 8:40:32 PM

  14. Two points...

    1) Im with Anon, i can see that word and not burst into flames. I honestly dont think its the worst word in the world and cant stand how its censored regardless of context. That said - Some sites WILL NOT use it because it can cause a flag and the site could be blocked. I know another site that wont actually spell out a number of words for this reason. like heroin. they'd say her**n.

    2) Some of you didnt read the article carefully. This WAS NOT a letter. It was an anonymous Voicemail. The paper IMO was negligent in publishing it regardless of its contents.

    Posted by: Homo Genius | Mar 21, 2013 8:53:13 PM

  15. publishing stupidity is sad..shame on them...

    Posted by: Alan Brickman | Mar 21, 2013 9:00:07 PM

  16. I think that letter was written in jest. It was probably written by somebody like me to cause this kind of heated discussion to show that it was a discriminating decision. It puts all the homophobes right up there with the KKK and white supremacists. Most homophobes would rather not be associated with such a group.

    Posted by: Richard Harney | Mar 21, 2013 9:26:14 PM

  17. Yeah, great, make your points under Anonymous. That's brave.

    Just shut up.

    Posted by: Paul R | Mar 21, 2013 9:27:07 PM

  18. Normally I'd agree that printing an anonymous voicemail isn't proper, and I'm still a little on the fence about it in this instance, but I think it's clear the paper's motivation was to EXPOSE this kind of bigotry and hate, not endorse it. They're exposing the kind of prejudicial thinking behind Ms Burns' firing.

    And think of it this way. This story has been going on for some time, with unsubstantiated allegations that this teacher tried to "turn her students gay" as part of the reason for her firing. I often read 3 gay news blogs and yet THIS is the first time I've heard of this story. Now that the paper printed that comment this story may get some attention outside that small town, shine some light on it. If that was the intent it seems to have worked.

    It's very easy for stories like this to slip through the cracks because they do take place in small towns. Yet IMO they are more worthy of attention than much the self-congratulatory celebrity tittle tattle we DO see on a daily basis.

    Posted by: Caliban | Mar 21, 2013 9:27:14 PM

  19. is it just me or does that read like a parody version of what we expect ignorant bigots to think like? I wouldn't be surprised if an LGBT ally sent that in to get people disgusted with the anti-gay mindset and to cement anti-gay hatred as synonymous with other forms of bigotry?

    Posted by: fanboi | Mar 21, 2013 9:34:26 PM

  20. not that I mind if that was the intention. If that WASN'T the writers intent, than they are even stupider than I could possibly imagine.

    Posted by: fanboi | Mar 21, 2013 9:35:13 PM

  21. @Caliban
    The background is that she made some accusations about widespread test cheating and the misappropriation or misspending of money. So they retaliated against her.

    Posted by: Steve | Mar 21, 2013 9:36:13 PM

  22. Good! Hang the bigots by their own rope.

    Posted by: DrunkEnough | Mar 21, 2013 9:47:59 PM

  23. I think it's awesome. It just points to all the other people in the community about the company they keep and the bigotry they share when they fired Burns. Seems about right. (And I'd be surprised if that was not the reason the transcription and publishing was done by the paper.)

    It's a giant message about how backwards the community is.

    Posted by: unruly | Mar 21, 2013 9:59:00 PM

  24. @Steve, I saw that in some of the articles I read in the Lincoln Journal. That probably is a big part, if not the main part, of what her firing is really about.

    But what I meant is more background on her accusers, the ones who are claiming she tried to "turn kids gay," or showed them nude photos or whatever. How about the School Board President or their legal council and the proceedings that allowed them to present rumors and unsubstantiated allegations as evidence? Make them put a face on these accusations or force them to admit it's all bullsh*t and another agenda entirely was at work.

    Posted by: Caliban | Mar 21, 2013 10:16:18 PM

  25. I don't want to live on this planet anymore...

    Posted by: Brian | Mar 21, 2013 10:29:54 PM

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