>Honesty apparently isn’t the best policy.
It seems that Seth Stambaugh, a student teacher in Oregon’s Beaverton School District, believes he was terminated from his position because of his sexual orientation.
Stambaugh, a graduate teaching student at Lewis and Clark college, was placed in Sexton Mountain, a Beaverton school, as a student teacher for the 4th and 5th grades; he worked for a couple of weeks, preparing for the school year.
But, in the first few weeks of the new year, Seth Stambaugh’s teaching partner told him that a parent had filed a strange complaint that Stambaugh was not dressed appropriately for a teacher. On the day of the complaint was lodged, according to Lake Perriguey, a lawyer working pro-bono of Stambaugh’s case, Stambaugh was wearing pressed slacks, a button-up oxford shirt, and a cardigan that was a gift from his grandfather.
Luckily, that day, the principal did not take any action.
However, later in the week, when Stambaugh was leading a journalism activity in the class, one of the students asked whether Stambaugh was married. Stambaugh replied that he was not and then the student asked why. Stambaugh replied that it would be illegal for him to get married because he “would choose to marry another guy.” The student pressed further, asking if that meant Stambaugh liked to hang out with guys and Stambaugh responded, “Yeah.”
That was the end of the conversation.
Apparently, this student was the child of the parent who had complained about Stambaugh’s wardrobe earlier in the week, and when news of Stambaugh’s conversation with their child reached home, the parent called the school and threatened to remove his child from the classroom.
On September 15th, Sexton Mountain principal called the Beaverton School District and told them that Stambaugh was barred from teaching in the district. Stambaugh was told that the comments he had made about his marital status were “inappropriate.”
Stambaugh doesn’t deny the conversation took place, nor does he deny that he told the student it was illegal for him to get married because he would marry another man. “The question,” says Seth Stambaugh, “is whether we tolerate what happened in this state and this culture.”
And now the sidestepping and backtracking.
Beaverton School District spokeswoman Maureen Wheeler wants us all to know that Seth Stambaugh was never technically an employee of the school district, since he was working through Lewis and Clark, and therefore it’s not accurate to say he was “fired.” She adds, “It’s not an employee issue, we requested a change of placement for this teacher.”
Po-TAY-toe, Po-TAH-toe. Fag.
Wheeler also said she did not know the specifics of the conversation or why it was deemed “inappropriate” and would say only, “There were the concerns about the conversation with a fourth grade student.” And yet the district decided to, well, let’s say, remove him from the classroom without knowing the specifics. She also states that the “district’s policy and practice is nondiscrimination. We seek diversity in our hiring and we create safe and inclusive environment for students and staff.”
Unless, apparently, a student teacher says he wants to marry a guy.
End of diversity, fire up the discrimination.
And then, there’s this interesting twist. Lewis and Clark spokeswoman Jodi Heintz says there’s a “discrepancy” in Beaverton School District’s characterization of the incident. “We categorically deny that we had the final call on what happened with Seth,” says Heintz.
Rather, Lewis and Clark college was informed via phone call that Seth Stambaugh had been removed from the school. Heintz says that when there is a conflict between a student teacher and a school, someone from Lewis and Clark sits down and talks it out with the school. In this case, there was no discussion.
Just the removal of a gay man from his student teaching position.