Teacher Fired For Being Gay in 1972 Receives Apology 42 Years Later: VIDEO

Washington-based Jim Gaylord, fired for being gay in 1972, will finally receive an apology from the Tacoma School District.

Washington-based Jim Gaylord, fired for being gay in 1972, will finally receive an apology from the Tacoma School District, reports The Olympian.

When confronted by the the vice principal at Wilson High School, Gaylord decided that he couldn’t live a lie any longer and confirmed rumors that he was gay.

The termination of his contract came after a Wilson student approached Gaylord to discuss the student’s same-sex attractions.  After a later suicide attempt, the student related to police that he had spoken to Gaylord.  The police visited the school and the vice principal then paid a visit to Gaylord.

A letter received by the former teacher informing him that he was fired read in part:

“The specific probable cause for your discharge is that you have admitted occupying a public status that is incompatible with the conduct required of teachers in this district. Specifically, that you have admitted being a publicly known homosexual.”

Gaylord never returned to teaching and a long court battle that went to the U.S. Supreme Court was unsuccessful.

Although Gaylord did not seek the apology, he said that it will help to “put a relatively pleasant end on an unpleasant situation.”

Last week, Flint Dollar, a teacher in Macon, Georgia, filed a sex discrimination lawsuit against a school after his contract was not renewed when the school found out he plans to marry a man.

 Watch KIRO7’s report on the apology, AFTER THE JUMP


  1. arch says


    Seems like a different world, I don’t think of myself as old or even middle aged, but when I realise that 1972 was just before I started school I realise I am very def middle aged!!

    Well done to Mr Gaylord and the school as well for finally doing the right thing.

  2. MajorTom says

    It’s a start, but what they should really do is repay all of the legal costs he incurred and–at the very least–offer him the full pension he would have received had he been allowed to work to retirement.

  3. Merv says

    Another example of the Washington State Supreme Court abdicating its duty to protect the rights of gay people. They also ruled in favor of marriage inequality a few decades later.

  4. says


    That’s a good start. I want him to get the legal costs, full pension AND all the years of pay he missed out on.

    To any gay teachers out there, if your boss asks you what your sexual orientation is, just answer “Do you have anything work-related to ask me? Otherwise, I need to get back to my job now.”

    I wish this teacher had said the same thing back in 1972.

  5. Troy says

    Sounds like Mr. Gaylord should definitely seek legal counsel and file a lawsuit for all the time and loss he incurred. Funny I keep running into and dating all kinds of teachers and their life stories would blow your mind but none of them has truly come out or admitted openly their preferred status…Is their a core group that gay teachers could seek support from? They are certainly tons of them and what they go through could be volumes all in the education of the Americas children.

  6. reality says

    Glad to see closure is coming to some of the wrongs the community has experienced over the years. So many more apologies like this are needed.

  7. Merv says

    @Troy – Unfortunately, he would have no legal leg to stand on. His case was already adjudicated 40 years ago, making it all the way to the US Supreme Court. There is no higher court to appeal to, even if all deadlines hadn’t passed decades ago.

  8. Derrick From Philly says

    CRISPY & AJ,

    it didn’t even occur to me. I’m going to have to turn in my WICKED CARD.

    I wish Mr Gaylord a happy life from here on out. He is hero for telling the…HIS truth in 1972.

    It was rough back then in the schools–not only for Gay students but for Gay teachers also. It got worse in the 1980s.

  9. Editrix says

    Hearing about this brings back memories of why I myself didn’t become a teacher during that era. It was 1972. I was in my final year of undergraduate work and was considering continuing for a fifth year to get my teaching credential. One day I headed down to the School of Education to get the application packet to sign up for grad school. While waiting, I started reading some of the material they had pinned to a big bulletin board outside the offices. One of the leaflets was on “moral turpitude.” There was a paragraph within that read very similar to why Mr. Gaylord was fired.

    I left very sad and disheartened — never applying or pursuing that career — knowing in my heart that I’d never be able to live up to that standard or be that closeted.

  10. oncemorewithfeeling says

    Why are you using the extremist right-wing hate speech of “same-sex attractions”?

    Do you really not know that term is used by bigots to pretend that there’s no such thing as a homosexual sexual orientation, only whims which are reduced to sex that don’t have to be — and shouldn’t be — acted upon?

    Don’t help to erase the very people this site is supposed to serve, thanks.

  11. Randy says

    An apology is a nice step. It’s also an admission of guilt, and isn’t really valid unless some attempt is made to put things right. And if you put things right for Mr. Gaylord, you need to put it right for all the teachers fired (or not hired at all) for this reason.

    I’ll be impressed only when it starts costing the school system what it cost him. Doing the right thing hurts sometimes, but it builds character.

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