Teacher resigns after furore because she told kids about her gay best friend
A former teacher in Pennsylvania has told the astounding story of the events which eventually led to her resignation.
Winden Rowe posted a lengthy Facebook post, which was re-shared in the Unionville High School Alumni group, in which she talks about why she decided to resign.
Rowe says students from her class were one-by-one removed, and asked questions about her personal life.
She writes that the high school students were asked whether she had a gay best friend, and if she brought it up in class.
Rowe says she was later asked by administrators at the school about her gay best friend, if they had dinner together and whether they had been on holidays.
After the investigation, Rowe says she was put on leave for two days for “misusing class time”.
Speaking to Mic, Rowe said: “If that’s the level of investigation and questioning that they can do without the professional knowing that it’s even happening, then that’s not the work environment for me.”
Although she resigned, Rowe says it was a decision she made, and she was not asked to.
The school, however, denied the claims made in the Facebook post by Rowe, saying they are “false accusations”.
The Unionville-Chadds Ford School district communications coordinator Dave Listman told Mic that they were proud of being a”completely inclusive organisation”.
The district claims that Rowe had representation in every meeting, and that because her union had not claimed wrongdoing against the school, none took place.
However Rowe says she was never given any indication that sexual orientation was a topic she should not bring up in class.
She says she will not fight for her job, but does worry about the message her situation sends to other teachers and their students.
Stephen Planzer, an attorney which Rowe sought counsel from after the incident, questioned whether if she had talked to her class about going on holiday with a straight friend, it would have had the same effect.
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“Because of how they reacted, because of how they punished her, even though it was a paid administrative leave, it was still kind of a punishment,” Planzer said.
“It chilled her first amendment rights, it made her unable to speak about homosexuals or having a gay friend. She was being punished for having mentioned those things in the classroom.”
“None of these behaviours, associating herself with gay person, nor traveling to Las Vegas, is illegal,” an email published by Mic stated.
“Furthermore, sharing this information with her classroom is also not illegal and does not rise to the level of moral misconduct. There has been no demonstration that this information that was shared with her class is harmful nor detrimental to their well-being. Therefore, it is unclear why she has been put on pay administrative leave and why she has not been apprised of what is being investigated.”