Alex Blaze

Pro-LGBT teacher reinstated in Oklahoma

Filed By Alex Blaze | August 28, 2009 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: education policy, employment discrimination, joe quigley, LGBT, oklahoma, students

Here's an item about a teacher who got fired because he was pro-LGBT. I don't know if he's queer or not, but he took the school to court for wrongful termination and won. Considering how maddeningly hard it is to prove employment discrimination in court nowadays, I'm going to guess he had a pretty good case.

And he's not stopping now that he's reinstated:

Quigley said in an e-mail Wednesday that he is looking forward to returning to the classroom and hopes the district will add the words "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the sections regarding harassment in the student and parent handbook, which is something he has worked for.

"Perhaps, after this, emphasis will be placed back on giving students knowledge, as opposed training them to take tests. Give them the knowledge, they can ace any test; and their lives will be richer. Train them only to take tests, and you have suppliers of statistics with no souls," Quigley wrote.

It reminds me of when I was in high school - teachers generally didn't talk about politics unless they were wingnuts. Anyone else was just indoctrinating students.

We need more teachers like this guy. We need more teachers, period, and to be firing them because they express a political viewpoint is ludicrous. Kids benefits from having those discussions, and lots of them aren't going to find it anywhere but at school.

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I'm glad he's reinstated, especially since he sounds like a wonderful and dedicated teacher. His district was stupid enough to punish him immediately, rather than include him with others being layed-off at the end of the term. This was mostly a case of academic freedom versus a case of LGBT discrimination.

Yes, you're right Alex how difficult it is to prove discrimination. I know because I was a teacher who was discriminated against, didn't have tenure, and my case would have been virtually impossible to prove even in a highly progressive city with detailed anti-discrimination laws. If it's done within the context of other layoffs and a budget crunch (which is, pretty much, everywhere), lacking a 'smoking gun' (eg a memo, a meeting involving someone who reports illegal decisions, a whistle blower) you're mostly plum out of luck. Not to minimize the importance of ENDA, just to understand the limitations of the protections it, and other legislation offers.

I wrote about that more extensively a while back. Studies show it's a lot harder to win an employment discrimination case than really any other.

And this supreme court is only going to make it harder. They know whose side they're on.

Uh, oh! Another advocate for students and enemy of the State! I know what that's like and so do many others. It's definitely not an easy forum to fight in and I appreciate his work. Yours too for bring it to our attention. Thanks!

Rick Elliott | August 29, 2009 2:43 AM

1970-71 I taught high school in a Texas suburb. I got permission to set up an honors Social Studies program. It would have included Oriental history beside Western, then there would have been philosophical readings also. I got to select 18 of the best 8th graders. But the coach didn't want to teach the classes I had had--"Too many preparations," he said.
The 18 students were to have the coach to tech them. here's how he taught, "Read pages 121-135. Answer the questions at the end of the chapter. If I hear you been talking, I'll "whoop y'ass". I resigned on the spot.

Maybe Sally Kern is on the school board?