The May issue of the San Luis Obispo High School (CA) newspaper Expressions was all about LGBTQ issues and even included an interview with two lesbian students in a relationship. It was exactly the sort of journalism you’d expect at a good high school, where serious subjects are given in-depth coverage.
One teacher, however, couldn’t handle it.
Special education teacher Michael Stack wrote a letter that was published on the newspaper’s website… and let’s just say God was involved.
I love the staff and students at SLOHS. My students know that. But I love God more, so in obedience to Him, I am writing this letter.
So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and shameful things with each other’s bodies. They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the creator Himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.
Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, He abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them too.
I write you these things in order to lift up those who have stumbled, or may stumble, and put you back on the right path.
Did I mention this guy’s in charge of helping students who need the most support…?
Needless to say, the letter didn’t go over well. Mayor Heidi Harmon even called the letter “unacceptable” and encouraged people to write letters to the school board and administration.
But Stack isn’t getting fired over this.
“A bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea offensive or disagreeable,” San Luis Coastal Unified School District Superintendent Eric Prater and Principal Leslie O’Connor said in a joint statement Wednesday.
That sounds very pro-First Amendment… but there’s a big difference between a difference of opinion (or even advocacy of an unpopular opinion) and saying LGBT students “deserve to die” because the Bible said so. That’s not merely an alternative viewpoint. That’s a threat. If a Muslim teacher did the same thing, you know he’d have been arrested immediately.
While Stack wasn’t punished, O’Connor said he wasn’t going to come back next year anyway. That decision was made back in February before he ever wrote the letter (he was a first-year teacher on probationary status).
Still, it’s disturbing that an adult at the school believes LGBT students deserve eternal torture. Even though it’s not like he’s going to kill them himself, how could any student feel comfortable around someone with that much hate in his heart?
Amber Ernst, a 16-year-old junior and co-president of the school’s Gay Straight Alliance, an LGBTQ advocacy group, called the letter “heartbreaking.”
“I’m very strong in what I believe and in who I am, but for others still trying to find themselves, I feel like something like this will be really damaging,” Ernst said. “It’s heartbreaking for them to see a teacher essentially say they’re going to hell.”
Ernst said she has Stack as a study skills teacher in the last period of the day.
It’s encouraging to see all the pushback against Slack’s faith-based hate, including from several Christians. At a school that Mayor Harmon said has a “high degree of suicide,” students are coming together to defend their LGBT classmates.
That’s wonderful. But it still doesn’t excuse the administrators letting Slack off the hook. If he made these threats without religious context, would they still be acceptable? Why should citing the Bible let him off the hook? The school year doesn’t end for another month, but there’s no reason Slack should be allowed to stay on until then.
(Thanks to Richard for the link)