Gay Teacher Cleared of Allegations of Unfairly Punishing Anti-Gay Student
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.
Dispute in Baptistland
January 25th, 2011
Earlier this month we reported that the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary had booted the Tarrant Baptist Association from their space on campus due to the Association fellowshipping with Broadway Baptist Church, a congregation that does not reject gay worshipers. Now it seems that the Seminary didn’t exactly have that right; the Association holds deed to the property on which they reside. (Baptist Standard)
In 1982, the seminary provided Tarrant Baptist Association land and the funds to build its office building, granting a 99-year lease on the property, Meredith explained. At that time, the seminary and association entered into an affiliation agreement stipulating the property would not be used for commercial activity, and the association and seminary would commit to remaining in theological harmony, he said.
In 1997, the property agreement was renegotiated, and Tarrant Baptist Association received the deed to the property, he said. “The affiliation agreement remained intact,” Meredith added.
Further, it seems that the affiliation agreement has provisions for resolving dispute and the Seminary does not have unilateral determination. A three person panel is supposed to be assembled to mediate a resolution.
But, apparently believing that “but, but, but Teh Ghey!!” trumps all, the Seminary is insisting that the Association give them back the property and go away with their heads hung low in shame. The Association is taking a different position.
Tarrant Baptist Association’s executive board subsequently met a few days later and unanimously approved a motion asking the seminary either to purchase the property from the association at fair market value or submit the matter to a three-person arbitration panel.
It will be interesting to see how this is resolved.
Southern Baptists kick out group that tolerates Broadway Baptist
January 15th, 2011
Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, takes a bit of a don’t ask, don’t tell approach to its gay members. The church avoids taking theological positions on homosexuality – saying that they neither condemn nor condone it – and gay members are fairly open.
But the Southern Baptist Convention has no room for anyone who does not actively condemn gay people and seek to make their lives miserable. To be a Southern Baptist Church in good standing, it is not adequate to delegate such matters to individual conscience. Rather, opposition to homosexuality must take on the importance given to matters of faith such as the divinity of Christ, the virgin birth, and redemption from sin.
So in 2009 Broadway Baptist Church was booted from the General Baptist Convention of Texas,
the a statewide affiliation of the Southern Baptist Convention. Baptist organization.
But it seems that the SBC is a lot like a sixth-grade girl who is seeking to control who is popular and who is not. Not only have they banished Broadway Baptist from the ‘cool kids’ clique, but they will kick out anyone who dares be their friend.
And the Tarrant Baptist Association, the Tarrant County group of Southern Baptists, dared to be friendly with Broadway Baptist. In fact, they allowed them to be part of the 395 churches that worked together in the county to provide support, outreach, and growth. How dare they?
So the Tarrant Baptist Association, in turn, was kicked off the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I’m not kidding. The official county association of Southern Baptist Churches was booted from their office in the Southern Baptist seminary because they didn’t ostracize one church who wasn’t adequately anti-gay. (Christian Post)
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has asked an association of churches to leave its Fort Worth, Texas, campus because the seminary says the group has a member church or churches that tolerate homosexuality.
A 1997 affiliation agreement between Tarrant Baptist Association and the seminary for use of an office building on the campus requires that the two organizations remain in “theological harmony.”
The seminary, which is associated with the Southern Baptist Convention, contends that the association has violated the agreement for retaining fellowship with a church or churches that don’t adhere to the denomination’s position that homosexuality is a sin.
From time to time some prominent Southern Baptist leader will rhetorically ponder, “Why do the homosexuals think we hate them? We don’t hate them, we love them and want them to live according to God’s Plan for their lives.”
Here is why we think you hate us. Because if one congregation is willing to let gay people even sit in the congregation, you kick them out of fellowship. Because if one collective of churches dares let such a congregation participate in ministry, you kick them out of fellowship.
We think you hate us because if you demonstrate rejection to a group whose only crime is to allow a member church whose only crime is allowing gay individuals to worship, then we KNOW that your animus, your contempt, your derision, and your rejection of gay individuals is of a level that if it is not truly hate then it is impossible to distinguish from it.
Ft. Worth Adds Transgenders to Non-Discrimination Ordinance
November 11th, 2009
Ft. Worth City Council last night expanded the city’s non-discrimination ordinance to include transgender people by a 6-3 vote. City council also discussed a broader range of issues important to the LGBT community, including offering domestic-partner benefits and expanding the city health insurance plan to cover gender reassignment procedures, including sex changes. Discussions were contentious, both inside the packed hall and outside, where protesters from both sides had gathered. The Dallas Voice reports:
There were no arrests or major physical altercations, but there was plenty of taunting and some heated verbal exchanges. Participants from both sides later accused the other of elbowing and pushing, and one of the counterprotesters admitted to ripping a gay Pride flag.
Ft. Worth Officers’ Punishment Slap on Wrist
November 5th, 2009
The Ft. Worth police department has now announced the punishment that will given to officers who stormed a gay bar on the 40th anniversary of Stonewall, harassed the patrons, and left Chad Gibson in the hospital with bleeding on the brain. They also announced the reasons for the punishment. (cbs11tv)
Thursday morning FWPD Chief Jeff Halstead held a press conference in front of the Rainbow Lounge to announce the disciplinary action. There the chief confirmed that two police officers, Officer K.Q. Gober and Sgt. R.M. Morris, will be suspended for one day and Officer J.M. Back received a three-day suspension.
The officers were suspended for a violation of police procedures during the inspection of the bar.
The officer that was suspended for three days, J.M. Back, was cited for handcuffing a person without probable cause, for releasing that person without issuing a citation, bringing unfavorable criticism to the police department and for failing to complete offense reports the night of the arrest.
Sgt. Morris was suspended for using “poor judgment in his tactics” to conduct the bar check.
Officer Gober was suspended for making a conscious decision not to complete the required offense report before the end of his shift and did not complete the offense report until his return to work the following night. Gober was also reprimanded for the negative media attention that “could have been adverted had Officer Gober completed the required offense report with the true and accurate details of events that occurred during the Rainbow Lounge bar check.”
Yes, you read that correctly. They are being punished for “negative media attention” and, get this, for letting Chad Gibson go to the hospital without being issued a citation.
So far, the version of “true and accurate details of events” that the police seem to be believing is far from the version of “true and accurate details of events” that the eyewitnesses reported. These who witnessed didn’t see any groping, but they did see Gibson slammed against the floor.
I wasn’t there, so I don’t know for certain who is telling the truth. But I know that I find a random person in a bar to be a far more credible source of truth today than a sworn officer of the law.
And I do know that these officers who stormed into a gay bar with a show of force and left people hurt and afraid will collectively spend less time on “suspension” than Chad Gibson spent in the hospital.
Ft. Worth Police: We Did No Wrong in Rainbow Lounge Raid
This commentary is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of other writers at Box Turtle Bulletin
November 4th, 2009
I have become convinced that the sole function of police internal investigations is to provide legal defense against civil suit for excessive force or civil rights violations. I’ve ceased to be outraged and am now often amused by review boards that find the most obvious of bullies and abusers to be “within procedure” and vindicated.
So it is not surprising that the Ft. Worth Police have conducted an internal review into the raid on the Rainbow Lounge and found no wrongdoing at all. (NBC)
Fort Worth police planned to announce on Thursday that an internal investigation has cleared officers of excessive force in the controversial raid of a gay bar this summer, and no officers will be fired, said two city leaders briefed on the matter.
The long-awaited 1,000-page report is expected to fault officers for not writing a timely report on the June 28 raid of the Rainbow Lounge, but conclude officers did not use excessive force or violate other operational policies.
Nope. No excessive force.
Because that guy with bleeding on the brain who everyone present testified was slammed into a wall and floor, oh he just pirouetted and fell and hit his little fairy princess head outside in the parking lot, ya know.
I know that police think that they win when they are true blue and defend the bullies and abusers in their midst. They think that they are protecting “their own” from the perps and the faggots and the scum.
But this decision by the Ft. Worth police only serves to further bolster the mistrust and hostility with which minority communities view those who they increasingly see as the oppressor rather than the champion of justice and civility. And the respect and cooperation that police rely on as a staple in their arsenal in the fight on crime is being replaced by recalcitrance and sympathy for those who are under investigation.
Last night while driving home I heard an interview with a police officer in Richmond, CA about the gang rape of a young girl on a school campus. He just couldn’t comprehend why none of the dozens of people who knew it was going on pulled out their cell phone and called the police. The police could have stopped it sooner; they could have apprehended more perpetrators.
I find it much less difficult to understand why no one in this mostly black and Hispanic community wanted to come to the attention of police. Who would be so foolish?
Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission Fires Three Over Rainbow Lounge Raid
August 28th, 2009
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission fired three agents who were involved in the June 28 raid on the Rainbow Lounge in Ft. Worth, Texas. That raid left bar patron Chad Gibson seriously injured with bleeding on the brain, following rough treatment by TABC and Ft. Worth police officers who slammed Gibson against the wall and onto a brick floor.
TABC announced that they fired Agent Christopher Aller, Agent Trainee Jason Chapman and Sgt. Terry Parsons this morning. Alan and Chapman accompanied Ft. Worth police officers on the night of the raid. Two others were disciplined. They were Capt. Robert “Charlie” Cloud, who oversaw the Dallas and Ft. Worth TABC offices, and Lt. Gene Anderson, who was Sgt. Parsons’ direct supervisor. Cloud received a written reprimand and Anderson was suspended without pay for three days and placed on six month’s probation.
TABC also made some administrative changes and instituted new training requirements beginning January 2010. A separate TABC investigation into the issue of the agents’ excessive use of force is still ongoing.
Last month, TABC administrator Alan Steen apologized for the agency’s role in the raid and blasted his agents for falling to “follow the damn policy.” Ft. Worth police have suspended joint operations with TABC and have announced policy changesto deal with bar checks in the future. FWPD’s internal investigation is continuing.
Ft. Worth Police Change “Failed” Policy In Response To Rainbow Lounge Raid
August 21st, 2009
Ft. Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead blamed a “policy failure” for the June 28 raid on the Rainbow Lounge. That raid, conducted in conjunction with agents from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, resulted in allegations of excessive force and landed one patron in the Intensive Care Unit of a local hospital with brain injuries.
Chief Halstead, in a brief to the city council earlier this week, said that an investigation into the raid is continuing, but he is already committed to making several policy changes without waiting for the investigation to finish:
“Under the new policy there will be three distinct differences between an actual bar check, bar inspection, and bar investigation,” he writes.
…Halstead told the council that bar checks will stay in place, but he described them as a low-key, communications point between officers and bar owners.
If bar checks find problems, he said, the department will progress to a bar inspection, which will be subject to two levels of supervisory review and documented problems.
The bar investigation will be the “strongest form” of policy, he said. Only then would other agencies be involved, and experts would be in charge, he told the council.
Halstead also said that joint operations between Ft. Worth police and TABC remain suspended.
Rainbow Lounge Investigation Reveals 19 State Policy Violations
August 6th, 2009
The Texas Alcoholic Beverages Commission has released the results of its internal affairs investigaton on the June 28 Rainbow Lounge raid in Ft. Worth, Texas. That report finds that two TABC agents and their supervisor committed a total of 19 policy violations during that raid. The Dallas Voice has the details:
Violations committed by the two agents include participating in a joint operation with Fort Worth police without approval from a supervisor; failing to submit a complaint card against the Rainbow Lounge; conducting bar inspections in unapproved attire; failing to follow bar inspection procedures; failing to report the use of force and injuries involving Chad Gibson, a Rainbow Lounge patron who sustained serious head injuries; and disrupting business during a bar inspection.
The violations committed by [Sgt. Terry] Parsons, who was not at the scene of the raid and has since reportedly retired form the agency, involve failing to take appropriate action against Aller and Chapman; failing to ensure Aller and Chapman filed the necessary reports; and failing to notify the sergeant’s supervisors of the raid.
The Dallas Voice has the full TABC press release.
Ft. Worth Task Force Recommends Protections for Transgender People
July 31st, 2009
The Fort Worth Human Relations Commission this week voted unanimously in favor of a resolution calling for the city to amend its anti-discrimination policy to include protections for transgenders. The resolution now goes to the new City Manager’s Diversity Task Force, and then on to the City Council for final approval.
The City Manager’s Diversity Task force was established by the city in the wake of last month’s raid of the Rainbow Lounge by Ft. Worth police and agents from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. But according to Human Rights Commission member Lisa Thomas, this particular police recommendation from the Commission was was the result of more than a year’s worth of work. Several transgender residents spoke before the commission last March to talk about the discrimination they face at work and elsewhere.
Meanwhile, that newly formed Diversity Task Force, which met for the first time on July 23, discussed providing partner benefits to city employees. They are also taking up issues surrounding diversity training and LGBT economic development (i.e. resources for businesses and tourism).
TABC Chief Apologizes For Rainbow Lounge Raid, Says Agents Failed To “Follow The Damn Policy”
July 16th, 2009
Update: The Dallas Voice has posted audio of the interview. Please go and listen. It’s a very rare and wonderful example of a public official having the cojones to step up and take responsibility.
In an exclusive phone interview with Dallas Voice on Wednesday, July 15, TABC Administrator Alan Steen also said the supervisor directly responsible for the two agents — a sergeant in TABC’s Fort Worth district office — announced his retirement last week in the wake of the raid and amid an ongoing internal investigation. Steen didn’t identify the sergeant or the agents by name.
“I don’t think you have to dig very deep to figure out that TABC has violated some of their policies,” Steen said. “We know that, and I apologize for that. …”
Steen told The Dallas Voice that he doesn’t believe there was sufficient cause for the “inspection”. He also said that the eight officers and a paddy wagon likely constituted an excessive show of force. With all that, he said that TABC had no business conducting an inspection at the Rainbow Lounge that night. Steen added in characteristically Texan fashion, “If our guys would have followed the damn policy, we wouldn’t even have been there.”
And those “State Police” uniforms that we asked about, knowing that there is no such thing as a “State Police” agency in Texas? It turns out that those are “special events uniforms” which TABC policy prohibits during bar inspections. Steen said that agents are typically in plain clothes during inspections.
Steen also suggested that the TABC was interested in appointing a liason to the LGBT community, similar to the position recently announced by the Ft. Worth Police Department.
You can read all the details of the interview with the TABC Administrator at The Dallas Voice.
Ft. Worth May Call For Expanded U.S Investigation Into Rainbow Lounge Raid
July 16th, 2009
The Ft. Worth Star-Telegram is reporting on more fallout from Tuesday’s city council meeting. Several members of the audience at that meeting demanded an independent investigation into the June 28 Rainbow Lounge raid that left one patron critically injured and in intensive care for a week. Two council members, Joel Burns and Kathleen Hicks, said they would support an independent investigation, but didn’t all for a vote on the issue. Now it looks like that idea is starting to gain momentum:
On Wednesday, Burns said “movement was afoot” to ask the U.S. attorney’s office to expand its role from just a review to a more active investigation. Burns said that based on conversations he’d had with the mayor’s office, “they are looking at expanding the scope of the U.S. attorney’s involvement.”
While he believes the Police Department’s internal-affairs unit is capable of an investigation that yields full and complete answers, Burns said, “there are people who don’t know our Police Department who may not be so assured.”
He said he believes that an expanded role by the U.S. attorney’s office, complete with its subpoena power and ability to use the FBI if needed, “reassures everyone watching that the answers are full and complete and accurate.”
They mayor’s office is reportedly working with the U.S. attorney’s office to determine the scope of a possible investigation. There may be a resolution calling for an investigation by next week’s council meeting.
Ft. Worth Spokesman Clarifies Mayor’s Apology
July 16th, 2009
Listen, if you want an apology from your mayor, I am sorry for what happened in Fort Worth, ” Moncrief said, drawing some applause. “I am sorry. I am sorry. I am sorry.”
But city spokesman Bill Begley has clarified the mayor’s remarks, saying that he didn’t apologize for the raid, just for the injuries sustained by Chad Gibson when he was slammed against the wall and thrown to the floor:
“The mayor and council are always sorry if anyone is hurt ever in our city,” Begley said Wednesday. “The mayor has asked for a thorough investigation of what happened in the Rainbow Lounge to the point that he’s asked for the U.S. attorney to get involved …They want to make sure that all voices are heard … but the apology is that anyone is ever hurt in any incident.”
Rainbow Lounge Raid Proves The Dangers Of A Kiss
July 16th, 2009
We’ve covered several examples before describing the provocative temerity of a kiss. It looks like that monstrously dangerous act also played a role in the June 28 raid on the Rainbow Lounge by Ft Worth Police and agents from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. Dallas’ WFAA-TV reports:
A police radio recording revealed that an officer called for help after they went inside the Rainbow Lounge.
“I need help in here,” he could be heard saying. “I’m by the restroom.”
That call came when officers said a customer blew a kiss at the officer, and then struggled with police as they tried to arrest him. The customer told News 8 his arm was injured.
Ever since Chad Gibson was injured and others arrested in a raid at the gay bar, one of the biggest questions for many was why did officers target the Rainbow Lounge in the first place?
According to police records, a cruiser video showed a man arrested for public intoxication two days before the controversial raid. In a police report, officers said they saw the man leave the lounge very intoxicated earlier in the evening and told him to get a ride.
Ft. Worth Mayor Apologizes For Rainbow Lounge Raid; LGBT Police Liaison Announced
July 15th, 2009
About two dozen LGBT citizens and allies spoke before the Ft. Worth city council last night about the June 28 raid on the Rainbow Lounge by Ft. Worth police and agents from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. They were there to ask city council members to apologize for what happen and ensure that such a raid will never happen again:
One woman said she had traveled some 1,500 miles from San Francisco to lend her support. A few speakers said they were not gay, but that they wanted the council to know that it was not just the gay community concerned about the actions of Fort Worth and TABC officers that night.
One woman described in detail what she saw during the inspection.
“That was the first time I was ever afraid of the police,” said Sarah Bryant, who had been at the bar with her boyfriend that night. “After that, I was overwhelmed with disappointment and I guess a little bit disturbed. … We just need your help to move on.”
The violent raid on the Rainbow Lounge took place on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. Chad Gibson was severely injured with a head trauma which resulted in him being sent to intensive care with bleeding in his brain. His full recovery may take as long as two years. FWPD and TABC are both conducting separate internal investigations into the raid, and the acting U.S. Attorney James Jack will independently review those investigations when they are completed. Meanwhile FWPD has suspended all cooperative activities with the TABC pending the outcome of these investigations,
One woman in the audience asked Ft. Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief why he hasn’t apologized for Gibson having to be hospitalized, “If you want an apology from your mayor, I am sorry for what happened in Ft. Worth. I am sorry,” Moncrief replied. According to the Associated Press, the crowd stood and applaused. The Star-Telegram merely said the apology drew “some applause.”
More than 250 people packed city council chambers for the meeting, with another 150 people gathered outside watching it on television monitors.
The meeting got off to a bad start when seven Dallas-based protesters from Queer LiberAction tried to disrupt the meeting. Those protesters were angry because the Rainbow Lounge discussion was placed last on the open discussion portion of the city council agenda — a normal spot when a particular topic is known to be of high interest and will likely generate a lot of discussion. Putting it last ensures that the other topics are discussed and gotten out of the way before the big one begins. But I guess there are always some people who are more interested in theater than action, demanding that their oppressed voices be heard when the topic is already right there on the agenda. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed:
While the outbursts from protesters brought a smattering of support, most at the meeting seemed bothered by the interruptions and broke out in applause when marshals escorted the men out and thanked Moncrief for working with the gay community.
DeeJay Johannessen approached the microphone and said he understood putting such speakers at the end of the meeting is a common practice.
“We are willing to wait. We’re going to be here. We look forward to talking to you. We looking forward to resolving this issue with you,” he said, prompting some to give him a standing ovation.
Real progress was made at the meeting. In addition to the Mayor’s apology, Ft. Worth Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead announced the appointment of Officer Sara Straten as liaison to the city’s LGBT community. Officer Straten is a 17-year veteran of the police force. Meanwhile, the internal investigations continue, with the FWPD considering theirs a high-priority investigation, and have so far interviewed 33 eyewitnesses since the start of the investigation. They expect to complete the investigation in 30 days.