Gay teacher told to ‘find a woman and get a pet’ rather than become a foster parent
A gay man has accused his employers of harassing him over his desire to become a foster parent.
Joseph Longo III, a teacher from Quinton, New Jersey, filed a lawsuit on February 9 that claimed one of his colleagues told him to “just get another pet” and that he should “find a woman” to have children with as an alternative.
Longo launched the suit in Superior Court under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination act, stating he was subjected to “workplace harassment based upon sexual orientation, familial, status and discrimination and discrimination based upon gender stereotype.”
He specifically called out the Salem City School District – and employees within it – in his complaint and identified himself as a homosexual male and foster parent.
Employees named include Pamela Bates-Thomas, director of special services, Dr. Billy Slaughter, school psychologist, Superintendent Dr. Amiot Patrick Michel, transition coordinator Dale Garner and Robin Winrow from human resources.
The suit details how Longo has been working in the area since September 2000 and is listed on the district’s Child Study Team website as a social worker.
According to John Paff, a Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party’s Open Government Advocacy Project who first reported the news, Longo disclosed to Bates-Thomas that he was taking foster parent classes back in 2016.
Longo goes on to suggest that she has made negative comments about that fact “nearly every day” since.
The suit also claims that Bates-Thomas told Longo that he was “not a real parent” and needed to choose between fostering and his career in education.
Additionally, it is stated that Bates-Thomas was consistently dismissive of his parental duties and wouldn’t allow him to take personal time off to take children under his care to the doctors.
Controversially, she allegedly argued that “arrangements can be made to return the [foster] child to the [child care] organisation, which would not occur if it is your own child.”
Bates-Thomas and Garner reportedly used to tell Longo that he “[doesn’t] need [to] foster kids, [he] needs to find a woman and have kids with a woman” and that, because he was a single man, he “did not know what he was doing” when it came to raising children.
Longo also asserts that Slaughter said he “hoped his learned his lesson” when two foster children left his home in May 2017. When Longo welcomed another around the same time, Slaughter reportedly told him he doesn’t “need any children.”
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On a separate note, the lawsuit also claims that Bates-Thomas didn’t seem to be comfortable with an LGBT club at the high school, saying that she couldn’t believe it existed.
Lawyers of the Salem City School District issued a statement on April 2, denying all allegations brought up in Longo’s “frivolous, unreasonable, groundless” suit.
According to his representation, Longo is seeking a jury trial on the grounds of punitive and compensatory damages and attorney’s fees.