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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, November 25

Jim Burroway

November 25th, 2012

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Events This Weekend: Hong Kong Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Hong Kong, China; White Party, Miami, FL; NOLA Masquerade, New Orleans, LA; 

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Judge Rules Utah Teacher’s Rights Were Violated: 1998. Wendy Weaver, who taught psychology and physical education at the high school in Spanish Fork, Utah, became embroiled in controversy when her ex-husband, Gary Weaver, told the district in 1997 that she was a lesbian. Rumors quickly began to swirl around Spanish Fork High School, and that summer students began asking her if she was gay. She answered truthfully, and a few of the girls dropped out of the girl’s volleyball team that she was coaching. On July 14, the school district removed her as volleyball coach and banned her mentioning her “lifestyle” or partner to students, parents or staff. If she mentioned a word about her sexuality to anyone, she would be fired. A letter to that effect was placed in her employee record.

When word got out, an overflow crowd showed up to denounce Weaver at a Nebo Board of Education meeting on November 14, 1997, where parents demanding the right to pull their children out of any class she taught. A group of parents formed Nebo Citizens for Moral and Legal Values and presented a petition signed by 2,700 parents demanding her removal. After Weaver filed suit in Federal Court alleging that her First Amendment Rights were being violated, the parents group filed a suit of their own demanding the revocation of Weaver’s teaching certification.

It all came to a head on November 25, 1998 when U.S. District Judge Bruce Jenkins issued a sweeping 25-page ruling finding that Weaver’s constitutional rights of free speech and equal protection were violated. The judge ordered the school district to remove its threat to fire her from their files, restore her to the girl’s volleyball coaching job, and to pay her $1,5000 in damages. He found the limits on Weaver’s speech to be overly broad. “Indeed,” wrote Judge Jenkins, ” these restrictions limit Ms. Weaver’s ability to speak on her sexuality outside of the school, as, for example, when meeting a parent of a student in the supermarket, or when speaking at dinner with a friend who may be a staff member at the school, or even when speaking with her own children, who are students in the school district.” All of this was a gross violation of Weaver’s constitutional rights. “Simple as it may sound, as a matter of fairness and evenhandedness, homosexuals should not be sanctioned or restricted for (speech) where heterosexuals are not likewise sanctioned or restricted.”

If you know of something that belongs on the Agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

As always, please consider this your open thread for the day.

Comments

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Joseph Singer
November 25th, 2012 | LINK

Is that $1,500 or $15,000 that was leveled as damages?

Steve
November 25th, 2012 | LINK

1500. It’s the annual compensation she previously received for her work as coach.

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