Have Your Opinion, Just Keep It To Yourself

A Florida high school has suspended its 2010 Teacher of the Year over Facebook comments he made against gay marriage.

Jerry Buell, who teaches social studies at Mount Dora High School, wrote on his personal Facebook page that same-sex unions are a sin, that he "almost threw up" over news about the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York, and that gay marriages were part of a "cesspool," as reported by Orlando Sentinel.

The comments were brought to the attention of Lake County School District officials by a former student, according to WESH 2 News. The district has suspended Buell from the classroom and reassigned him to a clerical position at the district's administration building while an investigation is pending, the local news agency reported.

Buell told the Orlando Sentinel that "it wasn't out of hatred" that he made the posts. "It was about the way I interpret things."

Over the past year, district officials worked on putting together new guidelines on social networking. They were approved by Superintendent Susan Moxley earlier this year.

Part of the guidelines state, "If you feel angry or passionate about a subject, it may not be the time to share your thoughts in a post – you should delay posting until you are calm and clearheaded. Always remember that no e-mail is ever fully deleted."

They also warn that use of social networking sites or blogs "creates the risk of affecting your professional career."

Former Mount Dora student Evan Holley told WESH 2 News that Buell would never try to offend anybody.

"I mean, he’s a really Christian guy and that’s his beliefs. I mean, it’s his personal Facebook," Holley stated.

A Facebook page called "Support Jerry Buell; Mount Dora High School Teacher of the Year suspended" was recently created, urging supporters to contact the school to help Buell get his job back.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like the "former student" should quit whining about someone's personal beliefs.

Liberal Elite said...

You have the right to speak, but you don't have the right to a job.

If he was a math teacher, I'd have some sympathy, but social studies??? He shouda known better.

afterthegoldrush said...

I have strong conflicting views on this topic. My beliefs; both evolutionary(as an agnostic) and religiously (post salvation) have always been the same.
But I could never forsake my gay friends.
I strive to be "Christ-like" and I know in my heart that He would not forsake anyone.
(I never could keep my opinion to myself).

Bob said...

The real issue here as I see it is whether or not the comment was posted on company time. Thats it. If it was on his time he has every right to post what he wants. Whatever that may be. Just because he is a teacher doesn't mean he is entitled to some watered down version of constitutional rights. This is specifically the type of self expression intended to be protected by the 1st amendment because it was based in his religious beliefs and the punishing entity is a leg of the government - employer or otherwise. The school may disagree and they may not like it. Tough shit! Get over it the same way we have to get over things the government does that we don't like.

Two Sentz said...

ATGR, you are absolutely right. Just because someone disagrees with a particular behavior doesn't mean you disparage that person. Be they an addict, cowboys fan, republican, etc., I still try to love the person even if I disagree or disapprove of their behavior. We are called to model Christ's love for humanity, God's love for his children. It's exactly the same as the way a parent loves their child even while they are screwing up.

LE and Bob, I too see both sides. Certain companies have restrictions on what you can say, usually relating to trade secrets though. Being a "public" school, his public speech should be protected, otherwise it's like Bob said, the gov't is dictating where they should not be.

afterthegoldrush said...

On a personal level: The company that I work for posted a directive stating that any disparaging remarks about them, either on a personal blog or facebook page would not be tolerated and would be dealt with accordingly.
To the best of my knowledge, I have never mentioned my employer by name on either venue that I use to express myself.
I give them an honest day's work and leave them behind at the end of the day.
When I started with this company in 1984, part of the new employee's benefit package was a one month's subscription to Guideposts magazine. About 10 years ago, new management took over and they, in my opinion, sold their souls to the devil for the almighty dollar. At that point, I had to turn my loyalty to them away. That is all I have to say.

Liberal Elite said...

@TS "Being a "public" school, his public speech should be protected"

I see this differently. Teachers need to be role models. There's no place for this sort of bigotry in or out of school. When teachers blatantly fail to be proper role models, well then sanctions or dismissal are not inappropriate.

I've posted this video before:
but the part between 1:00 and 1:45 express my views rather well.

Two Sentz said...

Just because a person thinks having anal sex with another man is not only unnatural and abnormal, but also immoral, that doesn't automatically make them a bigot.

Two Sentz said...

As far as the role model thing, I'd say taking a stand for your beliefs is being a good role model.

Liberal Elite said...

@TS "Just because a person thinks having anal sex with another man is not only unnatural and abnormal,..."

Well, That's what I think too. But I'm not about to take that to the level of bigotry and deny them their rights.

As for the morality question... that's just stupid. What sort of crazy ethical belief system makes homosexuality a moral issue???

How about the morality of bigots trying to control other people and deny them their common rights?

@TS "As far as the role model thing, I'd say taking a stand for your beliefs is being a good role model."

And what if his beliefs led to the promotion of Sharia law over our legal system? Or what if he was a holocaust denier? How about white supremacy?
Would these be good role models for teaching?

No. Espousing crazy or bigoted ideas warrant no special regard. This is NOT profiles in courage.

Bob said...

Regardless....he wasn't teaching at the time. He wasn't acting in his official capacity at the time it was written. Just because a person thinks it was inapproprite doesn't stip him of his constitutional right to free speech. He is not required to be a role model while out of school and not on the payroll. It may be a value that he has but not a requirement. Individual rights must be defended not diluted.

afterthegoldrush said...

LE - It is written...

Liberal Elite said...


If he's given his students access to his facebook account, then it can be construed as part of his official capacity. Does he post homework assignments there? Does he encourage them to visit? The story is light on facts, but I'm willing to believe that complaints were made and that the officials had cause to suspend.

No one wants to strip him of his rights to free speech, but that right does not extend to keeping a job.

I wouldn't want someone like this teaching my kids... I'm sure there are many parents who feel the same way... especially the parents of the gay kids.

Two Sentz said...

Good news: the teacher has been exonerated and reinstalled.

Liberal Elite said...

Yea, but did the learn anything?

afterthegoldrush said...

Did you misspell he or they?

Liberal Elite said...

Hmmm.. Let me go with "thee".