Public School Teachers, Free Speech, and Hostile Environment
A recent Department of Education investigation focuses on the tension between student and teacher free speech rights, the Free Exercise versus Establishment clauses, and the difference between respect and approval. The facts as alleged in the articles are as follows. Apparently a high school girl asked a teacher, First Sergeant Lynn Vanzandt, his opinion on homosexuality. He stated that he believes the Bible teaches homosexuality is a sin. It seems undisputed that the students initiated the conversation with the teacher. Less clear is whether the teacher stopped discussing the matter when requested. At least one girl ran crying from the room. The DOE investigation will explore whether lesbian students were subjected to a hostile environment on the basis of sex, or harassment based on failing to conform to gender stereotypes, and whether the school district retaliated against the student who complained.
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