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Students Back Suspended Teacher

Students Back Suspended Teacher


Speakers at a forum on the suspension of a Howell, Mich., high school teacher who kicked two students out of his class for making antigay comments say bullying is a problem at the school, and a teacher who stands up for gay kids should be saluted -- not disciplined -- for doing so.

Jay McDowell, an economics teacher at Howell High School, was suspended for a day without pay for kicking two students out of his class October 20. The argument started when one student said he "[doesn't] accept gays" because of his religion, according to the Associated Press. The student was wearing a Confederate flag belt buckle. When he was ejected from class, another student also voiced disapproval of gays and left as well.

"The classroom discussion was heading in a direction I didn't want it to head," McDowell said.

At Monday night's Howell Public Schools community forum, students discussed the bullying problem at Howell and praised McDowell for taking a stand (watch video below). McDowell said the youth who made the initial antigay comment is "a good student," but he wondered why he felt comfortable making the statement in class.

"That's on us," said McDowell. "We have to create an environment in these schools that makes it safe for everyone."

McDowell received support from students last week at a school board meeting: Fourteen-year-old Graeme Taylor of neighboring Ann Arbor urged the school board to reverse McDowell's suspension and grant him his pay.

"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."

A video of Taylor's comments to the school board has been pulled from YouTube due to a copyright claim but can be found at the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus website here.

Watch video from the forum below.

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