A Massachusetts teacher has allegedly been fired for vocally supporting LGBT students, including removing gender signage from school bathrooms for a non-gender conforming pupil, and giving rainbow pin badges to others.
Cory Grant – who taught for three years at the private Harborlight Montessori school in Beverley – was fired in June 2017. He says his promotion of LGBT rights led the school’s administration to terminate his contract.
He lodged a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination about his sacking this week.
However, school bosses have denied the claim, saying that the decision was entirely due to funding and pupil numbers at the school.
“As a Montessori school, one of our guiding principles is that education needs to be an available choice to all students, no matter how they learn or who they are,” the school’s head, Paul Horovitz, told the Salem News newspaper.
He stressed that the school promotes the diversity of all its students, adding that: “If Mr. Grant is saying something different, he clearly did not understand the school, its practices and its beliefs”.
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However, according to the complaint lodged by Grant, the school failed to support its LGBT students, and chose instead to dismiss him rather than change its practises to accommodate pupils.
“Harborlight chose to fire one of its most popular teachers rather than face up to its discriminatory actions,” said Grant’s attorney, Hillary Schwab from Fair Work P.C.
Grant alleges that in his first year as a teacher, the school ignored an LGBT bullying incident and the following year demanded that he put back gendered signs on a toilet to comply with the school’s code.
A school administrator also blocked plans from upper-elementary school students for a ‘Pride Day’, because it wasn’t age appropriate and did not reflect the school’s values, the ex-teacher says.
The same administrator supposedly labelled a rainbow pin badge Grant was wearing following the shooting at an LGBT nightclub in 2016 as “inappropriate”.
Grant says this was followed by “scathing” and “disdainful” remarks by other members of the school faculty.
Seven states in the US prohibit teachers in publicly-funded schools from discussing LGBT issues in the classroom.
So-called ‘no promo homo’ laws are on the statue books in Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas.
These can forbid teachers from “portray[ing] homosexuality as a positive alternative life-style” and discussing same-sex relationships “except in the context of instruction concerning sexually transmitted diseases”.