Seth Stambaugh on Think Out Loud This Morning

Comments

1
As much as this sucks for Mr. Stambaugh, this is a pretty good teachable moment. I've been a little miffed to see the instant vilification of anyone who's a little hesitant to completely condone Seth's response.

I think there are plenty of well-meaning people who don't regard having photos on their desk of their family or being addressed as Mrs. or casually mentioning their family status as something significant that gay teachers are routinely denied.

I hope the debate around this changes that for some people, and I think there is room for reasonable people to disagree with the way Seth handled the situation (he is a student-teacher after all, and probably shouldn't be held to the highest possible standard), though there is less room to disagree with the school district's actions, which completely abandoned their normal procedure in this case, which is basically prima facie evidence of discrimination (if it weren't of course, likely legal in this case).
2
On a serious note, it really amazes me how people actually are still retrograde about some issues. Everywhere. Stuff just doesn´t get through their thick skull. A normal thing as being gay causes all this ruckus cuz people like the one mentioned in this article decides to down treat a student just becuz a normal and a natural way of being. I really don`t hang out with haters and even do am straight, I am gay at sports bars to see if I can piss those people off and rock n roll form there.

You really can don`t like gay people (my opinion), for me there`s nothing wrong there, but if you`re using them as scapegoats or making their life`s miserable (or simply rallying "to decide their fate"- which is not yours!- let them get married for once and all scrappy!) I hope a Hippo shits on your grave while your being digged in alive in the dirt. What gay people do is their business and we should support them. I guess every little bit counts.
3
@Leaky: W-h-a-t t-h-e f-u-c-k? Seriously. I don't even understand this retrograde hippo shit rant in the least.
4
Marilyn Shannon's suggestion to help curb the rampant bullying of gay students is the result of bullying is that the bullies get marks down in their "permanent file." Nothing stops a youth from violent bullying faster than warnings about black marks in their permanent file!

This woman is the worst guest ever. Nothing she says makes any sense, and that is the whole enchilada.
5
I wish there were some recognition that who is important in a 4th-grade classroom are the 9 year olds. Not the feelings of the teacher.

It's not unreasonable for parents to want to address controversial issues, particularly sexuality, with their kids in their own time and own way. That's just parenthood.

For those of you up in arms, what is the reasonable limit of your position? Should we have transvestites in to discuss their preferences with the 2nd graders? If not, why not? How does that differ from your position here?

This student teacher was asked why he wasn't married. As a 23 year old, I suspect the actual answer was "I'm too young to be married yet." But instead of saying that, he felt the need to make a political statement to a nine-year-old. If he didn't expect some repercussions, then he isn't very bright.
6
@ Blabby, I guess I'm not one of the up in arms ones, since I agree he didn't handle this well. That's why he's still a student teacher - he shouldn't yet be expected to be a completely seasoned professional. Beaverton also didn't handle this well. By abandoning their usual procedures in this case, they all but admitted they were treating this student-teacher differently because of this orientation.

The fact remains that if a married student-teacher said "I'm married," or an unmarried straight student-teacher said, "I haven't met the right girl yet," neither of them a) would have been complained about, or b) would have been summarily removed from their positions.

The only reason "I can't legally marry a man" is a political statement is because we as a society have been stupid enough to make it one.

Finally, I don't think the 9 year old was damaged to learn that, and I don't think any nine year old would be damaged to hear that. Every kid by 9 has some idea of what gays are, and if they don't, they should. Not a bad time to learn about civil rights either.

While I don't want my teachers routinely pushing the boundaries of what they think is age appropriate for children, I don't think they should be summarily removed in this very borderline case. The student-teacher should have been corrected that ALL teacher relationships are inappropriate topics, and that should have been the end of it.

And of course, after that, Beaverton schools should send out a memo telling all teachers they can a) no longer refer to their families in any way, b) can't wear wedding rings, c) can't have photos of their families in their classrooms, etc.

Personally, I think it's way more distasteful for a 9 year old to learn about how we as a society deal with deeply entrenched discrimination than it is for them to learn the simple civic fact that Seth can't marry another man, but that's somewhat beside the point.
7
Stambaugh should not have been dismissed, but he should be mentored in appropriate boundaries with students. Most of the time, the right answers to nosey questions from students is "Yes" or "No", (and I believe this for those with the legal right to marry too. Take most of my family for example: if they went into a rant about how religion is a fraud and marriage fails anyway, that too would be inappropriate.) It is fourth grade, not a "teachable moment at all costs". Unless it is a high school civics or government class, I doubt that the answer to "Why?" has much to do with the curriculum for the day. I doubt they were able to get back to long division after that one.

Stambaugh needs to be protected by his teaching program, and I hope that other Beaverton parents rally around him, but he needs to learn some "time and place appropriateness" rules. Teaching as a profession is full of moments where adults need to make quick, solid judgments about what is best for a class. Stambaugh should consider if this is what he really wants.
8
Why is there a problem with children asking questions and getting real answers? It sounds like he was targeted by a parent as a homo/queer/fag/other epithet (he dressed too well) and answering the question was the last straw and he was gone.

A child asked a question. Was he curious? Was it this parent's kid? Was the parent talking about his student teacher at home, which prompted this line of questioning?

The world may never know...
9
Business as usual in Beaverton: www.teachingintheshadowoftheswoosh.blogspo…

The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon)
January 10, 2005 Monday
BEAVERTON SCHOOL DISTRICT SETTLES RACIAL BIAS SUIT
ANITHA REDDY
Summary: In the $120,000 deal, the district admits a custodian was called a racial slur but denies other allegations
The Beaverton School District has agreed to pay $120,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit by an African American former custodian, after admitting in a court filing that a co-worker called the man a racial epithet.
District administrators agreed in December to pay nearly $80,000, including $10,000 in gross back wages, to James Sanders and $40,000 in fees to his lawyer, Thomas Steenson. As part of the settlement, the district denied Sanders' allegations against three other co-workers.
The settlement, drawn from the district's $1.55 million insurance reserve fund, did not require school board approval, said Linda Borquist, an assistant superintendent.
Board member Ann Jacks said Tuesday evening that district lawyers had briefed the board on the case but had never discussed possible settlement amounts.
"It's not an insignificant sum or an insignificant issue," Jacks said. "I'd like, in the future, to be a little more active in this."
Board approval is necessary only if the settlement amount exhausts the reserve fund, which is set aside during the budget process and requires a transfer from the general fund, said Janice Essenberg, district administrator for budget services.
Because the district's insurance policy covers liability claims greater than $500,000, board approval would be required only in rare cases involving hundreds of thousands of dollars. Large settlements can be entered into without board approval, unlike contracts, which require a board vote if they are worth more than $50,000.
In neighboring Portland, the school board must approve all settlements greater than $25,000.
Sanders, who was fired in October 2003, sued the district in June, saying his boss, Ron Strasser, Aloha High School's head custodian, had used racially derogatory terms and threatened him. Sanders cited other instances of harassment, but did not name the co-workers involved or describe the offenses in his lawsuit.
Sanders met twice with Anthony Rosilez, then the district administrator overseeing custodians, and submitted two written complaints describing the harassment between November 2002 and August 2003, according to court filings by Sanders and the school district.
In a June 29 court filing, the district denied all of Sanders' accusations except one. The district admitted that a co-worker called Sanders a "spear chucker" in August 2003. In the same filing, the district denied workers used other racially insensitive terms.
Borquist declined to identify the co-worker accused of using the term. She said the employee, who was disciplined for the incident, no longer works for the district.
The district initially responded to Sanders' complaints by giving him the cell and home phone numbers of Rosilez so he could report any further harassment immediately, Borquist said.
The district also offered Sanders a place on its "Diversity Committee," an employee group that supports and embraces a diverse work force, she said.
"We take any report of harassment or discrimination very seriously," Borquist said.
At Sanders' request, the district held a training session in January 2003 for custodial staff to review anti-discrimination policies and reporting procedures.
Sanders' suit names as defendants Mark Moser, the district's administrator for classified personnel, Art Heckel, a former Aloha High School vice principal, and Strasser, Sanders' direct supervisor.
The district investigated Sanders' allegations against the three men and found no wrongdoing, Borquist said.
Heckel, now a vice principal at Westview High School, and Moser still work for the district.
Strasser retired in September. District officials said his retirement was unrelated to the lawsuit.