Incendiary comments made by a New Jersey teacher about an LGBT History Month display in her school erupted in a huge backlash online last week. The school conducted a meeting on the matter as numerous critics of her behavior chanted outside the school, "No Hate in Our State." Simultaneously, a number of supporters stood nearby chanting, "Don't Bully Vicki." (Saying that gays bully religious people is a fairly new tactic being used by foes of gay rights.)
Viki Knox of Union High School allegedly uploaded a photo of the exhibit on her personal Facebook page and then complained about it at length. A pro-gay organization, Garden State Equality, has copied and republished most of Knox's Facebook page. Knox posted a number of reasons why she objected to the "showcase from the English Dept" and to homosexuality in general. She claimed her beliefs were biblical truths, and that it was a lie to say she was being hateful. Excerpts included:
"Did she really have to say in my presence, 'She's such a good wife!' about her partner?! Seriously!!"
"Yes they did [put that up in the hallway]!!! And it's still there! I'm pitching a fit!"
"Homosexuality is a perverted spirit that has existed from the beginning of creation. The word of God refers to it often.... 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!"
"Union is not South Orange/Maplewood where one out of four families consist of two Mommies or daddies. (I'm exaggerating) Why parade your unnatural immoral behaviors before the rest of us? AND YOU ARE WRONG! I/WE DO NOT HAVE TO ACCEPT ANYTHING, ANYONE. ANY BEHAVIOR OR ANY CHOICES! I DO NOT HAVE TO TOLERATE ANYTHING OTHERS WISH TO DO. I DO HAVE TO LOVE AND SPEAK AND DO WHAT'S RIGHT!"
"I don't use the word hate unless I am expressing how much I HATE when I am lied on! I can do enough to get myself in trouble I do not need anyone helping me by lying on me! I've used words such as unnatural, ungodly, and immoral. I love my family members and friends that practice alternate lifestyles but I do not condone or support their lifestyle. I do not deny them access to me or my home."
''Students see this and feel comfortable coming outta their closet. Who's there professionally trained to handle the fall out? And I dont mean protecting them from Christians telling them that God loves you and he created you for more; he created you not to practice homosexuality and I love you too! THATS WHAT I TEACH AND PREACH ma'am! No I'm talking about when the gays bashers, bullies, and mean girls find out who's really 'freaky' in the building! The students already make negative disrespectful comments about teachers they think are gay. I dont allow those conversations in my class but in the halls..."
"Six and eight year old gay children?!? Ridiculous! Homosexuality is a conscious choice to engage in sexual relations with your same sex. Yes I have difculty with adults nurturing and accepting these attitudes and behaviors in children. If a man was encouraging an eight year old girl to be a call girl/escort, everyone would be ringing DYFS of the hook.... It would be a circus. But lesbians, gays, bi, etc that's appropriate to teach love and happiness? Okay. Whatever you say.''
''I didn't make it private because I didn't feel the need too. Just BECAUSE it's public you still do not have to respond stretch out of context what I said or bash me. I'm not hiding my opinions. They're mine and on my page. I didn't go on s...omeone else's page and voice my opinion.''
The New Jersey Ledger reports that the ACLU of NJ is legally siding with Knox. Director Ed Barocas said (New Jersey Ledger):
''Although we do not agree with the sentiments expressed on Ms. Knox’s personal Facebook page, her comments are protected by the First Amendment.... The ACLU believes that the response to offensive speech is not the restriction of speech, but more speech.''
The Union High School website appears to have a diversity "Belief Statement" that includes gender and sexual orientation. Another PDF is posted about a Parent Workshop called the "Anti-Bullying Program." It includes a definition of bullying that reads:
"'Harassment, intimidation or bullying' means any gesture, any written, verbal or physical act, or any electronic communication, whether it be a single incident or a series of incidents, that is reasonably perceived as being motivated either by any actual or perceived characteristic, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or a mental, physical or sensory [handicap]disability, or by any other distinguishing characteristic, that takes place on school property*, at any school-sponsored function [or],on a school bus, or off school grounds* as provided for in section 16 of P.L.2010, CHAPTER 122, that substantially disrupts or interferes with the orderly operation of the school or the rights of other students
- a reasonable person should know, under the circumstances, will have the effect of physically or emotionally harming a student or damaging the student's property, or placing a student in reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm to his person or damage to his property; [or]
- has the effect of insulting or demeaning any student or group of students [in such a way as to cause substantial disruption in, or substantial interference with, the
- orderly operation of the school]; or creates a hostile educational environment for the student by interfering with a student’s education or by severely or pervasively causing physical or emotional harm to the student.