By Winston Gieseke
Originally published on Advocate.com September 27 2011 1:45 PM ET
While a Fort Worth, Texas, student — who was briefly suspended by his German teacher for voicing antigay views in class — continues to protest the punishment he received, a local LGBT news source has printed an account alleging that the student and his friends had been harassing the teacher in question for months because they perceived him to be gay.
According to the Dallas Voice, Marvin Vann and members of the group LGBTQ S.A.V.E.S., which strives to protect local LGBT students and teachers from harassment, met with the teacher Friday and heard his side of the incident.
Vann writes that the teacher, who has “a long and distinguished service record,” is currently under investigation by school administrators for “having the temerity to write a disciplinary referral against Dakota Ary, a student whom [he] reports publicly harassed him in class” because Ary and friends perceived him to be gay.
Since both the teacher and the school district are unable to speak publicly while the incident is under investigation, Vann says he is coming forward with details of their Friday conversation because “only the student and his Liberty Institute lawyer’s version of the incident is being reported in the media.”
The teacher’s version of events, which Vann says has been substantiated by several students who witnessed the incident, has been found “entirely credible” by members of LGBTQ S.A.V.E.S.
Among the teacher’s statements, as reported by Vann, are that he “maintains a ‘word wall’ for his German IV class on which he posts articles and images from several journals, including the German magazine, Stern. One of these articles concerned gay rights in Germany, and included a photo of two men kissing.”
The photo was later found to have been ripped from the wall immediately after a group of four boys — which included Ary — had been seen sitting near it. Ary and his attorney say the inclusion of this photo constituted the teacher’s “imposing acceptance of homosexuality,” which Vann says these students then “took every opportunity to denounce” in class, regardless of whether or not the subject had been broached.
Vann also reports that when the student made the comment that led to his suspension (“Gays can’t be Christians; homosexuality is wrong”), he was looking directly at the teacher.
According to Vann, the teacher “understands and affirms students’ right to free speech, and that he is perfectly prepared to lead a respectful discussion on topics such as gay rights ... [but] he feels the context makes it clear that this remark was made ad hominem, aimed specifically at him to devalue him and any information he might share on the topic of religion, on the basis of his perceived sexual orientation.”
The report ends with Vann’s request that people “do not go into the speculations or reports of [the teacher’s] side of the case” as “that is for him to present.”
Read the full story at the Dallas Voice.