By Lucas Grindley
Originally published on Advocate.com August 31 2011 7:13 PM ET
A former student of the Facebook oversharing teacher in Florida, Jerry Buell, describes a classroom filled with Christian paraphernalia and a tense moment when repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" was raised during class discussion.
Bryan Blaise tells The New Civil Rights Movement blog that during 11th grade at Mount Dora High School, Buell was asked by a student what he thought about gays in the military.
"I tensed, knowing full well the point of view to follow in Mr. Buell’s response," Blaise said in the interview. "I looked up when he said he supported gays in the military, stunned by the answer. He immediately followed that comment with the statement that we should then put them on the front lines, and pull back. Disgusted at the thought of violence and murder of humans being vocally supported, I shut my book and walked out of class, the only time I would ever do this during my educational career."
Blaise said he never reported the incident and that he never complained about continued antigay bullying he experienced while in school, because attitudes there seemed clear and complaining "futile."
Blaise said his former social studies teacher's beliefs are obvious even in the decor of his classroom, which included Bible verses and a picture of Jesus Christ above the clock.
Buell is under renewed scrutiny by the school district because his class syllabus includes the following warning to students: "I am a man of God and I try to be like Jesus every day. I teach God's truth, I make very few compromises. If you believe you may have a problem with that, get your schedule changed, 'cause I ain't changing!"
The former "teacher of the year" first gained notoriety when he reacted to New York's enactment of marriage equalityon Facebook by calling it a "cesspool" that made him sick. The Lake County superintendent succumbed to Buell's argument that those comments, made on his own time during the summer and outside the classroom, were not grounds for firing as part of his First Amendment right to free speech.
But gay rights activists have expressed worry that Buell has created an unwelcoming atmosphere for gay students. Equality Florida noted the new stories from students and reports that 300 of its members sent letters to the district calling for an investigation.