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Posted on Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 11:57 a.m.

Openly gay Ann Arbor teen's defense of Howell teacher gains national attention

By Cindy Heflin

A video of an Ann Arbor teenager defending a Howell teacher has gained national attention and thousands of page views after several websites linked to it, the Daily Press and Argus in Livingston County reports.

Also, this morning Graeme Taylor, an openly gay student from Ann Arbor, and the teacher appeared on MSNBC, the newspaper said.

Taylor, 14, spoke at the Howell school board meeting Nov. 8, in defense of Howell High School teacher Jay McDowell. The district suspended the teacher for one day without pay after McDowell dismissed a student from class who said homosexuality is against his Catholic religion, the Press and Argus reported.

The school board is holding a forum tonight for people on both sides of the issue to express their views, the newspaper reported.

The Daily Press & Argus produced the video that several prominent wesites have linked to, including Gawker and New York Magazine. Blogger Perez Hilton also linked to it, and it was featured this morning on the It Gets Better Project website, which seeks to show teens positive images of openly gay youths.



Wed, Nov 17, 2010 : 11:38 p.m.

The key problem I see with the teacher's conduct is that the student was denied an educational benefit due to religious creeds when he was forced from the classroom. This is clearly impermissible under state civil rights law. It is similar to the principal earlier who had excluded white students from his lunch group. The deial of an educational benefit on account of religious creed is forbidden under Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

Silly Sally

Wed, Nov 17, 2010 : 5:14 p.m.

Ryan was taught incorrectly, if he was taught that America "was founded on tolerance". Americans, just as every other society in the world's history, historically have not had tolerance for everything. Homosexuals? Only recently by some. Americans of African heritage certainly do not think that we have always been tolerant towards them. I was taught that signs once read "No Irish or dogs welcome" or "coloreds only". America was founded on a belief of individual liberty and all (white) men who own property have equal rights. It is a testament to this nations greatness that these limited rights were expanded to include all. People such as this Howell teacher are part of a new breed of PC police who strive to silence any and all who do not agree with them. UM is ground zero for such actions.


Wed, Nov 17, 2010 : 10:56 a.m.

I've always been taught that our country was founded on tolerance -- toward other people's speech, other people's religion, other people's guns, other people's homosexuality, etc. No matter how unpopular they all should be tolerated. Those who advocate for a lack of tolerance are un-American.

Matt Cooper

Tue, Nov 16, 2010 : 9:01 p.m.

@daniel: Yes, buddy. I see your point. You've cleared it all up for us. "I can't accept gays because it is against my religion", is surely not an exercise in freedom of expression. And yes, I can now see the dripping vulgarity in those rather, how shall I say it, heinous, vile and offensive words. Yes, you're right. I do believe that from now on all teachers, indeed all adults, should be able to remove any persons with whom we feel their speech fits just such a loosley worded definition. No more protected speech for the, again, how shall I say it...the undesirables, in our society. Yes!!! Silence them all I say!! Now, go study some more. Nothing this kid said, NOTHING, crosses the line into "vulgar" or "offensive" speech". That teacher doesn't get a free pass to initiate a conversation as controversial and intense as this and simply dismiss anyone who disagrees with his point of view. He doesn't get to use the classroom for a forum to spread his own personal philosophy on issues involving sexual identity or gender issues. He doesn't get to use the class room as a vehicle to preach to non-homosexual students about acceptance and tolerance of homosexuals while at the same time practising intolerance of all who dare to disagree with his own personal moral code. This is NOT what teaching is all about. He should have left this type of discussion to the parents of the students instead of taking on the roll of thought police. That is NOT his job!


Tue, Nov 16, 2010 : 8:30 p.m.

The teacher, in regards to both the belt buckle and (arguably) the homophobic statements, was well within constitutionally permissible bounds in removing the student from the classroom. Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser 478 U.S. 675 "The First Amendment guarantees wide freedom in matters of adult public discourse... It does not follow, however, that, simply because the use of an offensive form of expression may not be prohibited to adults making what the speaker considers a political point, the same latitude must be permitted to children in a public school. It is a highly appropriate function of public school education to prohibit the use of vulgar and offensive terms in public discourse... Surely it is a highly appropriate function of public school education to prohibit the use of vulgar and offensive terms in public discourse." Further, "Given the school's need to be able to impose disciplinary sanctions for a wide range of unanticipated conduct disruptive of the educational process, the school disciplinary rules need not be as detailed as a criminal code, which imposes criminal sanctions." If the student in question had shown up wearing a Klan hood and stated he hated blacks, per his faith, this wouldn't even be up for debate. Schools are given a fair amount of latitude in terms of 1st amendment issues. See Bong Hits for Jesus.

Matt Cooper

Tue, Nov 16, 2010 : 5:48 p.m.

@jody: Well your condescention will get you nowhere, but since you don't believe me, why not try asking any judge what constitutes "hate speech". I know you probably won't because in all your egotism you probably think you already know what it is. Well, guess what: You don't have a clue. Apparantly you also haven't read a single one of my posts, nor have you made even a feeble attempt to learn what it is you are writing about. So, that being said...saying you hate someone or something is not hate speech until and unless it incites a violent act. Google it. Ask a judge or lawyer. Go to WCC and ask any of their criminal justice teachers. check out Again, you probably wont. Because it takes courage to challenge your own knowledge base and risk finding out that you just might be wrong. So...investigate it for yourself. I dare you.

Jody Durkacs

Tue, Nov 16, 2010 : 3:16 p.m.

@Matt Oh it's not that I don't understand what you say, I just think you are wrong and hypocritical. Saying "I hate gays" (if that was ever even really said) CERTAINLY creates a climate of hate. How can it not? If you were there and gay, you would likely feel like a climate of hate was being created. I know I would. Your attempts to re-define "hate" and "hate speech" have failed miserably and you contradict yourself without seeing it. You might just want to give up.


Tue, Nov 16, 2010 : 12:35 p.m.

The actions of the teacher in dismissing the student likely constituted religious discrimination under the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. I would hope a grievance is filed with the Michigan Civil Rights Commission. This conduct should not be tolerated.

sun runner

Tue, Nov 16, 2010 : 10:12 a.m.

@A2Lawyer: "The persecution of Christians is accepted in society today and that is a real shame." You have got to be kidding. I haven't heard of any Christian adolescents committing suicide because of relentless bullying due to their religious beliefs.


Tue, Nov 16, 2010 : 9:48 a.m.

@Matt, ALL schools have a dress code. If an item is seen as being a distraction, a teacher can ask that you change. Educational laws are still developing and are not very refined. That is why you have so many schools that interpret these laws differently. How many attorneys advertise that they specialize in educational law? I would assume that a confederate flag belt could be seen as distractive considering........ Howell's reputation. The teacher could have claimed that it might make minorities students feel uncomfortable (if there are any there).

Matt Cooper

Tue, Nov 16, 2010 : 9:44 a.m.

PS. Cheating on an exam, while indeed being a moral issue, is certainly not a freedom of expression issue, therefore that argument is kind of silly.

Matt Cooper

Tue, Nov 16, 2010 : 9:39 a.m.

@clownfish: "So, you would allow bullying on the playground and in the classroom? How about fornication in the same places? Should students be allowed to steal from other students? Should teachers allow cheating, as this is a moral issue?" Bullying is a physical, harmful assaultive act. As is stealing. Sex is also a physical act. Thinking, feeling and expressing one's own beliefs is not a physical act. And I do believe the Constitution of these United States guarantees EVERY citizens right to freely think, feel and express themselves (in non-physical ways).

Matt Cooper

Tue, Nov 16, 2010 : 9:36 a.m.

I'm not sure how people got their panties all twisted up and decided this was about creationism, or hatred or even Catholicism. It is none of these. If I may borrow from the freep... "High school teacher Jay McDowell was suspended for one day without pay after telling a student to leave the classroom when the boy said he didn't accept gays because it was against his religion. The incident happened after McDowell asked a girl wearing a Confederate flag belt buckle to remove her belt. Another student asked why the girl had to take off her Confederate flag if gays could fly their rainbow flag." "I don't accept gays because it's against my religion." Hmmm. Sounds a lot like an opinion to me, or a stated belief. Nothing hateful certainly. So the teacher takes that statement and decides that that qualifies as intolerance, and that it is his job to be the new thought police and order that student from his classroom. But I wonder why that teacher (and some of us here) don't understand that for as much as gays have the right to speak their minds about how they love being gay, and espouse the gay lifestyle and expect support for that purpose (First Amendment 'freedom of expression' sound familiar here?), non gays also have the right to speak their minds in opposition to being gay. Does the freedom of expression clause only apply to those 'we' deem worthy of that freedom? Does it only apply to those who are fit to express themselves? And if so, who decides who is fit, or whom is allowed to express themselves? We, as a society, go to greath lengths to protect the speech of other groups such as the KKK. We pay for extra police protection when they want to have marches through town proclaiming the superiority of the white race. We give them microphones and aloow them to stand on the upper levels of city hall to spew their message to the masses. And this is but one example. But boy, if you are a child in a classroom and you say one word about not accepting gays because of your religious convictions, you are DONE! Get outta' my classroom!! Funny how people always seem to want "tolerance" but only from those that agree with their point of view. I will say it one more time: I fully support the school boards suspension of this 'teacher', and hope that he has learned that espousing tolerance while practicing intolerance is not only improper, it is not his job. His job is to teach algrbra, econ., or whatever other academic subjects he is qualified to teach. Leave the moral teachings to the parents of the children.


Tue, Nov 16, 2010 : 9:23 a.m.



Tue, Nov 16, 2010 : 9:17 a.m.

SILLY, There also is no "separation of church and state" in the constitution, just no establishment of a certain religion as a state religion. I read/hear lots of talk about what the "founders intended" from a lot of xtians... On Church and state: "Both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together."- James Madison. Did you know that until 1806 it was illegal in New York for Catholics to hold public office? I could call upon that "tradition". Homosexuality is as natural as gravity. Almost all of Gods creatures indulge in acts of homosexuality. The Supreme Court has ruled it is lawful to engage in such acts. If you find those acts reprehensible, it is YOUR cross to bear, not ours. I wish people would expend the same amount of energy ridding this country of poverty as we do harassing our gay neighbors!!


Tue, Nov 16, 2010 : 9:05 a.m.

I think DOGPADDLE hit this one out out the park. Well written! What did Jesus say about homosexuality? Not much, if anything. He did say to love thy neighbor, did he not? God, using the Olde Testament, not only finds homosexuality to be an abomination, but also shrimp. I don't see any attempt to limit peoples right to shrimp, yet is is codified in the same text as homosexual acts. But, Jesus said one cannot put anything evil into ones body, as all things come from God. Would that not also include body parts? I think it perfectly acceptable to ask a student wearing a confederate flag be asked to remove it, especially if there are any descendants of slaves, or descendants of those killed by the traitors of the confederacy in the classroom. How about if a student, claiming biblical principles, stood up and refused to be instructed by a woman, claiming he hates the idea of women being allowed to teach? Or, if, using biblical principles, he stood up and said he would not stay in the same classroom as "mud people"? Or if, using biblical principles, he said he hated adulterers and refused the teaching of a divorced teacher?

Silly Sally

Tue, Nov 16, 2010 : 8:59 a.m.

"Because "freedom of expression" ends when it becomes hate speech." This ain't in the constitution, but only is part of a wish list for some. There also is no "separation of church and state" in the constitution, just no establishment of a certain religion as a state religion. This teacher invited a discussion on the topic, a student gave his opinion as asked, and now some readers believe that only a one-sided discussion should be tolerated. Any and all opinions to the contrary of "pc" opinions should be punished. People such as this teacher are trying to coerce all impressionable students to accept his views about homosexuality. Homosexuality and this teacher's views are repulsive to many in society. Always have been and always will. Should we have a witch-hunt for homosexuals as occurred in a bygone era? No. But neither should we place the lifestyle on a pedestal. "Gays" want to shout about their lifestyle and have everyone accept it.


Tue, Nov 16, 2010 : 2:14 a.m.

It's one thing to say I don't approve or don't like homosexuality. But when you use the word hate, condone bullying through action or inaction in anyway you are contributing to the intolerance no matter what your religous justification. This type of attitude is where it all begins. When a muslim terrorists mother goes on tv and says her son is a good man and the attacks on the U.S. are simply a wake up call to a morally corrupt United States and justifiable through her religion she's just speaking freely? Yes, but her intolerance incites hate and is clearly unacceptable. Everyone has a right to express their religous views as they see fit. And if you believe homosexuality is wrong...that's your right however, it is not your right to punish others for your stance. If these boys used hate or expressed anger towards another student they should be disciplined. We should practice what we preach. If we want religous radicals to stop imposing their intolerant values on us and the world we must embrace pluralism and demostrate tolerance at home.


Tue, Nov 16, 2010 : 2:05 a.m.

Yes, Matt, unlike you I only speak for myself. If you think that referring to hate and creationism by kinder, gentler terms such as disordered and intelligent design, then yes, it's about me and the fact that You People are attempting to insult my intelligence. The effect that your rhetoric has on anyone else is none of my business and so I'll not speak for them. Sorry for the rather brusk reply but your spamming in the comments really got to me.


Tue, Nov 16, 2010 : 1:31 a.m.

I hope I can shed a little light on this (no pun intended nor am I bashing some religious beliefs...this time, which, yes are Constitutionally protected). As both a former classroom teacher and one who also taught the Constitution, I hope I can clear up some confusion here for most of you. Hate speech and almost all speech, yes, is protected by our beloved First Amendment as is all religious beliefs and the right to not believe as well (and be free from any establishment of an official religion which is that separation of church and state thing Christine Odonnell couldn't seem to locate within the First Amendment). Let's not confuse all of our rights particularly the right to free speech no matter how offensive it is with a teacher's right (and a school's right) to have high expectations for a classroom (and school) to be free from disrespect toward other people even if those people aren't represented in said classroom. In other words, it is ok for a teacher to have a set of reasonable and clear classroom rules that commands respect for all human beings and insulting or disparaging remarks or comments that might make another student (or staff) feel uncomfortable should not be tolerated. There should be a consequence for that in the same way that there should be a consequence for say sexual harassment or talking in any way that is disrespectful toward another student or staff. Schools do have the right (as do work places) to have a code of behavior. I realize that it may seem a fine line to uphold the right to an opinion yet censor disrespectful speech (behavior). When we would have debates on what might have been controversial issues in my classes, it was still NOT ok to insult another group of people while giving a supportable opinion. While IMHO, there is no scientifically sound support to dislike gay people or any other minority group (just religious beliefs which come in conflict with more progressive religious beliefs - thank goodness, officially, none of those religions are supposed to be better than another or take precedent over one another..."officially"). So bottom line, this teacher has the right to expect respect for all in his or her classroom even if one doesn't like someone else for whatever reason. Students (and employees in the workplace) are not allowed to say whatever they want while on that property. And if you want a Supreme Court decision that says that while all students (all US citizens) have Constitutionally protected rights, a school has a superior right to be able to do what it is supposed to do - educate - free from disruption/distraction, look at New Jersey v TLO. It was actually about a student's 4th Amendment rights being violated, but the court found the school had a superior interest in conducting its business which is teaching school. A gay student (and all students) need to be able to go to school and feel comfortable. No one is telling the gay hater he or she can't come to school and get an education. But he or she can still get that education without being disrespectful to others. Likewise, a student shouldn't be able to say that "religious fundamentalists are a bunch of kooks!" That would be disrespectful and not supportable behavior in a classroom.


Tue, Nov 16, 2010 : 12:31 a.m.

Do Kids always say "I hate you" to each other? Do they really mean hate? No, They are still friends. Please relax! My friend was told that someone in the office wanted to file a criminal charge against her because she called her department chair's office to schedule an appointment which she asked to do by another chief from another department. Laddies, are you crazy? Do people in this country still have any freedom? Will we be arrested someday because we called our Dr. office?

Matt Cooper

Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 11:40 p.m.

@lola: Now you see what being moronic and judgemental will get you. I am not a creationist, nor a conservative, nor a Catholic. And what's this "you people" comment? You think this is about you? Get over yourself.

Audion Man

Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 10:43 p.m.

I want to know why Ann's coverage of this is so trailing edge... I found out about this days ago, off on the Internet. This brave kid should have been featured here sooner than that.


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 10:18 p.m.

@Lola - There is no conspiracy at work here. Catholics don't sit around scheming of ways to express hate in coded form. On the contrary we don't profess to hate anyone or anything, but sin. What is unclear to many of us is the nature of homosexuality, and the separation of the being from the act. It is easy to misinterpret Catholic meaning when one says he hates homosexuality when referencing the act. Although it is not too much of stretch for those who are not Catholic to link the statement to hate of the gay person, and thus it is the Catholic's responsibility, in my opinion, to use due care in making such statements, avoiding inflamatory speech. I think the teacher in this case could have done better to diffuse the situation, however it started. Dismissing a student for religious beliefs was simply wrong and could have been avoided, or so it seems.


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 8:59 p.m.

Matt you are hilarious! And I like how the Catholics found a new term for hate, now they use the term "disordered". Kind of like "creation" is now "intelligent design". A rose (or turd" by any other name is still a turd. I guess You People think I fell off the turnip truck yesterday.


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 8:21 p.m.

Howell is not the home of the KKK. It is 10 miles north in Cohochta MI. The Grand Wizard of the KKK has been gone for years.


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 7:26 p.m.

"Was the other student who expressed his beliefs not allowed his rights of expression but the gay student is?" Somehow I doubt that this student said there was something wrong with being straight, or was guilty of using slurs against those that are not gay, which would be the equivalent. Funny how it's perfectly fine to openly bash and insult people, but the second someone stands up and defends themself, the bully starts crying about being picked on.

Matt Cooper

Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 6:29 p.m.

@jody: Funny how you quote my post and yet have no understanding of what it says. "...OR speech that creates a climate of hate or prejudice, WHICH MAY IN TURN FOSTER THE COMMISSION OF HATE CRIMES." The speech in itself is not "hate speech" unless it incites others to violent 'hate' crimes or acts. Simply saying "I hate blacks" is not in itself a hate crime because it does not incite any violent acts nor does it facilitate a violent act or response. The bottom line in this case is that the teacher removed a student from his class because he didn't like that the kid stated that being gay is against his own religion. Nothing that kid said, at least not as far as anything I've read about with this story, could be termed anything like "hate speech". Opinions are not hate speech. It's really sad to me that people can't seem to understand how wrong that teacher was in forcing his morality on that particular student for simply stating an opinion, as well as understanding how wrong that teacher was to take up other kids class time with such a discussion that would be better left up to the parents of the children. I fully support the school boards suspension of this teacher and hope that he never does anything like this again.

Larry Houle

Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 5:31 p.m.

It is interesting, I know a few gays who are openly practicing their Catholic religion. I can't believe the pastors do not know that some of their parishioners are gay. However, I do think the student has a right to say being gay is against his religion or beliefs. As far as hating gays; that isn't any different than hating another religion (such as Muslim) because of some terrorists. I do not think the Catholic Religion or any other religion teaches hatred in any shape or form.


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 5:13 p.m.

lucasjw You seem to be asking for the reporter to do some research. Had this been done and included within the text of the original article then much of the above speculations, assumptions and even argument may have been avoided.


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 4:42 p.m.

The sticking point in this conversation seems to be law vs. school rules. We don't know from this story what exactly was said in the classroom, and as a result are only speculating if the teacher's actions fit the seen. What is clear, however, is that school code and local/state/federal law are separate. If someone sues the school, then the law comes into play to assess the school's code and related actions. But until then, Constitutional law and local statutes do not apply. If the school's rules of behavior address symbols (Confederate flag) or speech such as, "I hate...," then it is appropriate for the teacher to act. Once it is known what happened in the classroom, then it can be determined if the teacher responded according to the school's rules or not. The teacher's suspension may have been the result of an inappropriate action by the teacher or an over-reaction on the school's part. But to cite the law in this case is putting the cart before the horse because it doesn't apply until a suit is brought.


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 4:34 p.m.

@ True_Wolverine_Fan I have not performed independent diligence on the facts of this situation so I am limited to arguing based on the information contained in the article. If the accused student engaged in hate speech, then that was against Christian teaching and the student should be subject to appropriate discipline. It is not hate speech though if the student merely speaks out against homosexual behavior as being disordered. I apologize for my overbroad statement earlier when I said that Christians do not promote hate speeech. Some wrong-minded persons claiming to be Christian certainly do promote hate speech. I should have said that it is not correct Christian behavior to promote hate speech. Based solely on the information given in the article I believe it is unreasonable to think that McDowell acted correctly. First, he steered a classroom discussion into a mine field. Second, while in the minefield, he made an error in judgment in punishing a student that merely expressed an opinion with which he did not agree.

Jody Durkacs

Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 4:17 p.m.

@Matt One of your criteria for hate speech is that it "creates a climate of hate of prejudice, which may in turn foster the commission of hate crimes." Then you go on to say that ""Simply saying "I hate gays", or even "I hate blacks!" Is not hate speech" How does saying "I hate gays" not create a climate of hate?? You appear to have contradicted yourself.

Matt Cooper

Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 4:02 p.m.

@wolverinefan: You are correct. I am not a lawyer, but I do have a degree in crinimal justice, and as odd as it may sound, in CJ programs all over the country, you are required to learn a bit about the Constitution.


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 3:58 p.m.

@Matt Given your posts here, I don't think you're a lawyer either. The school will pay a hefty price for this... the negative publicity alone is enough of a black eye. This won't be some little thing - it's been on the news in other areas as well and it most certainly will continue to be. I actually feel kind of bad for the school... I don't think they fully understood what supporting the bully would do. They will know once this is all over the news though... poor school.

Matt Cooper

Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 3:53 p.m.

@truewolverinefan: You a lawyer? Ever studied the US Constitution? Do you have any idea what legally is defined as "hate speech" and what is not? Without going into a whole lecture on what is or is not hate speech, let's just say that saying "I hate gays!" is not what is legally termed as 'hate speech'. Sorry to disapoint you, but this teacher tried to force his morality onto a student in his class and I am supportive of the school district suspension of that teacher. @amanda: The shortest answer to your question is to say that hate speech generally is speech that is designed to advocate or encourage violent acts or crimes of hate, OR speech that creates a climate of hate or prejudice, which may in turn foster the commission of hate crimes. Simply saying "I hate gays", or even "I hate blacks!" Is not hate speech nor has it ever been legally defined in that way especially when it occurs during a discussion initiated by the teacher in this case.


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 3:49 p.m.

@A2Lawyer, You should 'investigate' this story a little more. Your take on what happened is not correct. Also, "Christians do not promote hate speech either." HAHAHAHAHA. Thank you for that.


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 3:42 p.m.

@ True_Wolverine_Fan "The district suspended the teacher for one day without pay after McDowell dismissed a student from class who said homosexuality is against his Catholic religion" The student did not say "I hate gays." The student said that homosexuality was against his Catholic religion. Saying "I hate gays" would also be against the student's Catholic religion. Christians do not promote hate speech either.

Top Cat

Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 3:35 p.m.

Could someone explain for me exactly what "hate speech" is and to what extent it is illegal?


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 3:34 p.m.

I'm pretty sure lots of schools do not allow students to wear clothing that promotes alcohol - Budweiser shirts, etc. Schools can have rules as to what is unacceptable. And, if a confederate flag is against the rules, then the teacher can oust the student. And, folks can bring up the dress code policy to the school district.


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 3:33 p.m.

Hate speech is, outside of the law, any communication which disparages a person or a group on the basis of some characteristic such as race or sexual orientation.... Whether or not something is legal doesn't mean it is acceptable in school or at work. Morality is taught, like it or not, by what is socially acceptable: schools and workplaces have long required that you don't lie, cheat or steal. You don't harm others.


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 3:28 p.m.

The young man spoke eloquently, indeed..I will give him that. Yet I think there must be more to this article than a teacher dismissing another student for expressing what he perceives to be his Catholic faith, which does not teach that same-sex attractions are sinful in themselves, but basically says that they are disordered.... and that the acting out of them ( actual behavior) is sinful.. in the same way that they are for heterosexuals. Otherwise, it must be asked why should the student expressing his opinion be dismissed from class for being intolerant when the teacher himself is expressing intolerance by doing the dismissing.


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 3:26 p.m.

The 14 year old was well-spoken, but wrong. He deserves to be able to live without fear and persecution, but he should understand that criticism of a homosexual lifestyle is not a crime. It was wrong of McDowell to dismiss a student from class for stating his point of view on homosexuality. The positions against homosexuality are well accepted Christian and Catholic doctrines that are based on love of neighbor and not on hate. The student that spoke his mind on the disordered nature of homosexuality was the courageous one. The persecution of Christians is accepted in society today and that is a real shame. I pray for us as a nation.


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 3:21 p.m.

@Matt Cooper- I'm just curious, and I don't mean this sarcastically at all, but what exactly would constitute 'hate' speech to you? Saying you hate something doesn't mean it's hate speech? Doesn't your own sentence seem silly to you?

Elaine F. Owsley

Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 3:19 p.m.

If a person makes a statement of fact - or what he perceives as fact - that is free speech. The teacher violated any number of rights by dismissing the student. Discrimination because of religion is one of them; stating a personal belief as free speech is another. Perhaps teacher needs a refresher in civics.


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 3:18 p.m.

@Matt Coming into a classroom and saying, "I hate gays" is hate speech. Imagine if the student had come into a classroom and said, "I hate blacks"... do you really think that would be tolerated? Of course not, nor should it be! This teacher acted admirably and he was punished for it. Hold the school's feet to the fire!

mike from saline

Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 3:11 p.m.

This sounds like a repeat of the Betsy Hanson case from a few years back. When will the left wing, political correct folks realize that the 1st ammendment is for everyone. By the way, what did the Betsy Hanson affair end up costing the the folks in Ann Arbor? I think it was about 10 grand, if I'm not mistaken.

Matt Cooper

Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 3:03 p.m.

Ok Rusty...tell me a single case where it has been made illegal, anywhere, to wear a confederate flag belt buckle, since you're such a law expert. Secondly, tell me where it says in ANY law that saying I hate gays is "hate speech". Thirdly, tell me where it says that it's okay for a teacher to dictate morality to my children. Can you? I'm thinking not.

rusty shackelford

Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 2:56 p.m.

Matt Cooper, the first amendment does not give one the "right" to wear whatever one wants in any context unreprimanded. Wearing hateful clothing or expressing hateful opinions is not illegal, but that doesn't mean you can, without consequences, waltz in to your job wearing a Nazi uniform any more than a student has the "right" to say he hate his fellow classmates. No one was ever going to jail for these things, the teacher was merely upholding professional behavior in a professional (i.e. school) context. The First Amendment means the government can't fine you or put in in prison for expressing yourself. It doesn't mean your expressions will never have any consequences, ever, enacted by anyone. As a society we need to get over the latter notion.

Matt Cooper

Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 2:30 p.m.

Actually, according to another article I read about this this morning, this whole situation started when the teacher asked one student, who was wearing a confederate flag belt buckle, to remove it in his class. That student either refuse or asked why, at which point the teacher decided to take up class time to have a discussion. I have two problems with this: 1. It is NOT the teachers job to teach my child, or anyone elses, morality. 2. It is also not his job to take up my child's class time so that he can preach whatever his own personal morality is. Finally, while I applaud young Mr. Taylor's right to be gay and to live free without harassment, bullying or any other forms of abuse, he needs to understand that, as do some of the posters here, that saying you hate someone or something (saying, for instance, "I hate gays!") is not hate speech. It is an opinion. And it is indeed protected by the Constitution. Mr. Taylor would be wise indeed, to understand that the freedoms we are all guaranteed apply to ALL people, not just those that agree with 'us'. If he wants to be gay, and to be able to express his right to being gay, he must also respect the rights of others to speak against being gay. Like it or not, that's the way it works.

Blue Marker

Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 2:28 p.m.

This "child" knew he was gay at the age of 9? And openly gay at 14? I knew I was straight at that age.


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 2:17 p.m.

@jgtrueblue - "Was the other student who expressed his beliefs not allowed his rights of expression but the gay student is?" Because "freedom of expression" ends when it becomes hate speech.


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 2:06 p.m.

I applaud this young man's articulation and passion. But I am confused and also frustrated. This "child" knew he was gay at the age of 9? And openly gay at 14? Was the other student who expressed his beliefs not allowed his rights of expression but the gay student is? Did the young person who was dismissed state that he "hated" or simply stated his beliefs were based on his religious convictions during a discussion? And exactly what subject was being taught or discussed in this classroom? I believe assumptions and accusations are made AGAIN, dismissing that there are two sides to every story. Where is the discussion or transcript for what was actually said rather than assuming this to be a case of hatred. That's my frustration.


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 1:27 p.m.

So the student's hatred for gays is acceptable because it is based in religion? Once again religion is accepted as an excuse for ignorance.


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 1:22 p.m.

i believe the child that said being gay was against his religion said further.. that he hated gays.. which is what made the teacher send him out of class after explaining that hate talk wasnt accepted in his class


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 1:04 p.m.

Amazing to watch a confidant young man stand up in front of a room full of adults, with cameras rolling and speak on behalf of his teacher. Very impressive--his parents should be proud.

Patricia Cockrell

Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 1:01 p.m.

What an impressive young man!! Bravo!!


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 12:30 p.m.

Nicely said son!