Students are demanding that an Illinois public school remove a teacher who allegedly said that people are gay because they were “unwanted” by their parents.
Kim Johnson, a part-time French teacher at Morton District 709 High School, also allegedly called being gay a “choice” and claimed that girls “like to cry rape,” according to current and former students.
Students, parents, and local residents protested outside the school last week, demanding that the district diversify its elected representatives and make it “safe” for LGBTQ students, WMBD reports.
Johnson was accused of making homophobic, transphobic, racist, and misogynistic comments in front of her students, with the allegations dating back more than a decade.
One former student, Andrew Irwin, told WMBD that he took Johnson’s American Problems class in 2009, where she allegedly “shared with our class that she thought being gay was a choice.”
Another student, who wished to remain anonymous, said they remembered “comments being made like, if you were gay that was because you were unwanted in your parents’ womb. Every time I left the classroom I was shaking and nervous.”
Maya Phan, who graduated in 2017, said that Johnson “told me that she would be OK with me being stopped in an airport for no reason, just because of the way that I looked.”
Johnson then “proceeded to ask me if I was gay in front of the entire class,” Phan continued. “She warned a boy to be careful at a college party ‘because girls like to cry rape.'”
Phan is one of three students file a formal complaint against Johnson. Morton district superintendent Jeff Hill confirmed to WMBD that Johnson is being investigated, but declined to provide specifics, citing privacy issues.
In addition to Johnson, students accused school board member Bart Rinkenberger of transphobia, after a comment he wrote under a Facebook post about defying Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker’s (D) mask order.
“Imagine a people so conflicted that they allow a child to decide what gender they want to ‘be’ but won’t allow them to decide to wear a mask or not,” Rinkenberger wrote.
Josie Kneller, a junior at Morton 709 High School, spoke out against Rinkenberger at a school board meeting last week, noting that they “can’t preach kids to stop bullying when they are the bully on the school board.”
“I want to see people being able to feel safe and be happy within the school and not be fearful of a teacher being rude to them or other students being rude to them because they’re shown by the higher-ups in our community that it’s okay to do this, and it’s not ok,” Kneller said.
Superintendent Hill told WMBD that the school district “does not and will not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind.”
“While individual board members, administrators and employees do have First Amendment rights to make statements on their own behalf, the position of the school district is only communicated through the Superintendent or Board President,” Hill said.
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