• Student comes to teacher’s defense

    Date: 02.16.11 | by Judge Tom.

    In October, 2010 on National Anti-bullying Day, a classroom discussion about the rights of individuals turned into a viral video.

    Economics teacher, Jay McDowell, of Howell High School in Michigan, wore a purple shirt in support of the anti-bullying message.  He noticed a student wearing a Confederate belt buckle and asked her to remove it.  Another student questioned the difference between wearing a Confederate flag and a rainbow flag, the unity symbol for the gay community.

    The discussion led to the student announcing that he didn’t accepts gays due to his religion. McDowell suspended the student for one day. Then, in turn, the school board suspended McDowell for one day without pay telling him he violated the free speech rights of the student and for wearing a “controversial” purple shirt.

    Jay McDowell

    At a school board meeting to discuss the case, 14 year old Graeme Taylor, who was from another school in the area, addressed the board.  As an openly gay student, he stated “I’ve been in classrooms where children have said the worse things. The kinds of things that drove me to a suicide attempt when I was only nine years old. These are the things that hurt a lot. There is a silent holocaust out there, in which an estimated 6 million gay people every year kill themselves. He did an amazing thing. He did something that inspired a lot of people.”

    In Graeme’s view, Mr. McDowell is a hero.  His address to the school board and his appearance on the Ellen Degeneres show can be seen below:

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    2 Comments subscribe to these comments.

    • Tulsa Divorce Attorney Matt Ingham
      Tue, 19 Jul 2011 at 07:52

      I disagree with the notion that homosexual students are subjected to more bully than heterosexual students. The reality of bullying is that it exists, it exists for homosexual students, it exists for heterosexual students, quite frnakly it exists for any and every student who exhibits any type of ‘uniqueness’.

      I’m glad to hear that Graeme spoke out in support of his values.
      The statistics showing a higher level of bullying against GLBTQ students because of their “uniqueness” is more than a notion. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pew Research Center can be found on their respective websites.

    • Vicki
      Tue, 02 Aug 2011 at 03:23

      Graeme voiced his opinion.

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