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Gay Teacher Cleared of Allegations of Unfairly Punishing Anti-Gay Student

Jim Burroway

October 1st, 2011

When earlier news reports a week ago mentioned that a Ft. Worth high school student had been suspended for telling a classmate that he believed that homosexuality was wrong. On September 22, Fox News reported it this way:

Holly Pope said she was “absolutely stunned” when she received a telephone call from an assistant principal at Western Hills High School informing her that her son, Dakota Ary, had been sent to in-school suspension.

“Dakota is a very well-grounded 14-year-old,” she told Fox News Radio noting that her son is an honors student, plays on the football team and is active in his church youth group. “He’s been in church his whole life and he’s been taught to stand up for what he believes.”

And that’s what got him in trouble.

Ary’s German teacher, Kristopher Franks, was put on paid administrative leave on the following Monday. An offiicial with the teacher’s union says that the leave was unrelated to the incident with Ary, and after a week-long investigation by the Fort Worth Independent School District, Franks was cleared of any wrongdoing and he returned to work Friday. Meanwhile, Ary and his mother called on Liberty Counsel to fight Ary’s in-school suspension on the grounds that Franks had violated Ary’s right to freedom of speech. And it turns out that the story that Ary’s mother had been telling to every media outlet who would listen was likely exaggerated:

Ary said in  media interviews that he made the comment quietly to a classmate sitting next to him in response to a discussion going on in the class at the time.

But Franks told friends shortly after the incident that there was no discussion involving homosexuality at the time, and that Ary made the comment loudly while looking directly at Franks.

Franks also told friends that the comment was only the latest in an ongoing series of incidents in which Ary and a group of three of his friends have made anti-gay comments to and about him.

Franks told friends that the harassment by Ary and his friends began several weeks ago after Franks, who also teaches sociology, posted on the “World Wall” in his classroom a photo, taken from the German news magazine Stern, of two men kissing. The photo was ripped off the wall and torn in two at some point during Ary’s class, and Franks told friends he believes that Ary or one of his friends tore up the photo.

During a later sociology class students upset that the photo had been torn up replaced it with a hand-drawn picture, and another student then covered that picture with a page bearing a hand-written biblical scripture from Leviticus calling sex between two men an abomination.

Franks told friends that since that incident, Ary and his friends had continued to make derogatory and harassing comments.

Franks reportedly has been the target of anti-gay comments for at least two years, and that Franks’s car was vandalized in one incident. Meanwhile, Liberty Counsel, members of whom have been implicated in the kidnapping of Isabella Miller-Jenkins and who teach law students at Liberty University to choose “God’s law” over “man’s law,”  is trying to turn Ary’s anti-gay harassment into its newest cause célèbre.

Comments

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Charles
October 1st, 2011 | LINK

Interesting article. Now let me tell y’all a family story about my older brother. He was in Junior High School in about the 7th or 8th grade and had a gay French Teacher. Well, my brother and the teacher got into an argument and my brother called him queer and punched him in the face. That was my brother’s one way ticket to a military school. My parents never told told the family the whole story until years later. They left out the fact that my brother hit the teacher. At the time of the incident my brother was sent to see a psychiatrist, who recommended that my brother get some time away from my Mother.

Bose in St. Peter MN
October 1st, 2011 | LINK

I’ve been in situations where kids have essentially been used to further their parents’ agenda. Kids showing disrespect and being verbally combative were championed and rewarded, with little to no concern about the context or environment.

That training created big challenges for the kids as they transitioned into college and career environments, though. They were learning some social skills in their 20s that their peers had been coached through a decade earlier.

Similarly, the best guess is that this teen is not being reminded that many (or most) of his classmates and teachers don’t share his family’s beliefs; his parent and the Liberty Counsel aren’t expecting him to show the same respect he’d like to receive. They’re contributing to his sense that he is a hero.

The whole experience is unlikely to help him as an adult. Being disruptive on the job, and throwing a media tantrum when consequences follow, isn’t going to make a 20-something a hero (much less advance a career).

Nick Thiwerspoon
October 1st, 2011 | LINK

The ChrisTaliban strike again.

pgbach
October 1st, 2011 | LINK

These hooligans are making me rethink my position on corporal punishment.

In my day, if I’d behaved as these guys are behaving, the principal would have roasted my butt and my father would have delivered it twice as hard when I got home.

San Diego Rob
October 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Could you imagine being at a private catholic school and hearing some kid say that he has the right to talk positively about gay people, or to say that gays are OK people? This lady should send her kids to private school if they want to have thoughts like that.

BlackDog
October 2nd, 2011 | LINK

@ Pgbach: Exactly, I went to Christian schools, and I’m quite sure I still would’ve gotten the Can’t Sit Down For A Week treatment simply because being disrespectful was frowned upon no matter who one was disrespecting.

I was taught that respect for others and decent behavior in public were both part of being a Christian, and I saw kids get paddled for much less than what these anti-gay kids are doing.

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