A high school student has stood up to a school board in Michigan, defending a
teacher who was suspended for a day without pay last month after ejecting two students from his
class over antigay
remarks and the wearing of a Confederate flag image.
Fourteen-year-old Graeme Taylor opened his speech last Monday by telling school board members that their town, Howell, Mich., is known for Ku Klux Klan activity -- something the board members deny. He made the case that the town will become known for being hateful as opposed to fostering dialogue and tolerance. Taylor, who lives in neighboring Ann Arbor, urged the school board to reverse the suspension of teacher Jay McDowell and grant him his pay.
According to the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, McDowell became involved in the controversy when explaining why he was wearing a purple shirt October 20 -- an act of solidarity with gay teens who had been bullied, sometimes to the point that they committed suicide -- and arguing with a student who was wearing a Confederate flag belt buckle. The exchange led to the ejection of two students.
"This teacher, whom I fully support, finally stood up and said something," Taylor said. "I've been in rooms -- in classrooms -- where children have said the worst things. The kinds of things that helped drive me to a suicide attempt at only 9 years old."
Watch his speech below. Monday night's school board meeting will be a forum on the disciplinary action against McDowell.
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