Teacher Reassigned For Coming Out

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com October 04 2010 12:55 PM ET

A teaching intern at an elementary school in Oregon said he was discriminated against after he was reassigned to a new school for telling a student that he is gay.

When a fourth grader asked 23-year-old Seth Stambaugh why he was not married, Stambaugh said it was because it was illegal for him to marry another man. The parent of a student who overheard the conversation complained, according to The Oregonian, causing the school district to remove Stambaugh from his assignment. His advisers at Lewis & Clark College were then reluctantly forced to reassign him to another school.

Maureen Wheeler, a spokeswoman for the Beaverton School District, said the decision was not discriminatory but based on the Stambaugh's "professional judgment and age appropriateness." She added that the school district enforces its antidiscrimination policy and trains its faculty and staff on LGBT issues. 



Beaverton is located in the Portland area.

Lewis & Clark graduate school dean Scott Fletcher said in a statement acquired by The Advocate, the college's administrators don't agree with Beaverton's move. "There is no doubt that the issue of GLBT teachers coming out in elementary and secondary schools is unjustly complicated by a heteronormative culture."

"My deepest wish and active goal is to see Seth become a teacher," he added. "I believe the best way to end discrimination is to ensure that all elementary and secondary children—GLBT and straight—have access to GLBT teachers in their schools. My colleagues and I are already working to find Seth another student-teaching position so that he can continue making progress toward a goal that I know all of us who believe in social justice can support."

Stambaugh, who is finishing his master's degree in elementary education, has not filed a lawsuit and said he will comply with the move to another school district.