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Jerry Buell, Florida High School Teacher, Suspended For Anti-Gay Facebook Posts


First Posted: 08/19/11 06:47 PM ET Updated: 10/19/11 06:12 AM ET

A Florida high school's "Teacher of the Year" has been suspended for an anti-gay post he wrote on his Facebook page last month.

Jerry Buell, a history teacher at Mount Dora High School in Mount Dora, Fla. wrote on his Facebook page that he "almost threw up" when he was having dinner and news came on of New York's decision to allow same-sex marriage showed up July 25.

"If they want to call it a union, go ahead," Buell wrote, according to ClickOrlando.com. "But don't insult a man and woman's marriage by throwing it in the same cesspool as same-sex whatever! God will not be mocked. When did this sin become acceptable???"

When his Facebook friends retaliated against his comments, Buell published a second post: "If one doesn't like the most recently posted opinion, based on Biblical principals and God's law, then go ahead and un-friend me. I'll miss you like I miss my kidney stone from 1994."

The page has since been removed and Buell was initially reassigned before the suspension for violation of the school's social media policy. Buell's page on the Mount Dora school website is also now blank.

"Social media is a minefield," Chris Patton, communications officer for Lake County schools, who helped develop the guidelines told the Orlando Sentinel. "People think they're free to say what they want to, but in some aspects it can come back to haunt you."

From the Sentinel:

The guidelines warn teachers if they "feel angry or passionate about a subject, it may not be the time to share your thoughts in a post" and to "delay posting until you are calm and clearheaded."

While school officials say they are investigating the issue on the basis of an ethics code violation, Buell says everything was done on a personal basis: on his own time and personal computer at home.

"[I was] exercising what I believed as a social studies teacher to be my First Amendment rights," Buell told Fox News Radio.

Officials say Buell had over 700 Facebook friends, therefore rendering his comments public.

Meanwhile, there's a likelihood that Buell won't be able to teach when the school year starts Monday. And though Buell's Facebook friends initially lashed out at him for his comments, a new page has sprouted in support of his cause, largely advocating for separation of profession and personal beliefs.

"It wasn't out of hatred," Buell told the Sentinel of his post. "It was about the way I interpret things."

New York became the sixth state to adopt gay marriage when Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law, which took effect July 24. The legalization of same-sex unions was considered a historic victory for the gay community.

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Filed by Emmeline Zhao  |  Report Corrections