Pro-gay teacher quits over reprimand

BY Advocate.com Editors

May 23 2003 11:00 PM ET

A high school teacher suspended for using a racial slur in response to a black student's derogatory use of the word "gay" received a written reprimand from his school district and then announced his resignation. After investigating the matter, Seattle Public Schools officials concluded that teacher Brian Emanuels, 39, had not meant to convey disrespect or intolerance but called his remarks "inappropriate and unprofessional." "It was clear from our investigation that Mr. Emanuels meant no harm and that he was trying to drive home a very important point: that words can hurt," school district spokeswoman Lynn Steinberg said on Thursday. "Unfortunately, he went about his lesson the wrong way."

Emanuels, hired as a computer teacher at Cleveland High School last fall, was suspended with pay on May 8, a little more than a week after asking a student who had described an assignment as "gay" how he would like it if someone called him a "nigger." The boy's mother contacted the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which urged the district to fire Emanuels.

In a written statement issued Thursday afternoon, Emanuels said, "I am very pleased with the decision of the school district confirming that my comments on April 29 were clearly intended to teach tolerance and respect for all groups, not to cause harm to any student or group. I hope that we can all learn from this experience about ways to treat one another with greater civility and respect. That's the point I was trying to make, and I apologize to those who were offended by how I went about it." Emanuels, a former Microsoft employee, said he decided to resign because he felt his presence at Cleveland High School might prove distracting to students and staff.

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