An Arizona school district's controversial decision not to renew the contract of a popular high school principal has come under further scrutiny amidst allegations that homophobia may have played a factor.
As My Fox Phoenix is reporting, area police had to escort Paradise Valley School District board members to their cars on Thursday after parents, students and colleagues demanded to know why Paradise Valley High School Principal Cynthia Davis would not have her contract renewed at the end of the school year.
"I have been on the school board for 11 and a half years, and we have made some decisions that have been unpopular with different communities, but I have never witnessed such as I did last night," Sue Skidmore, president of the board which voted 5-0 to let Davis go when her contract expires June 8, told the Arizona Republic. "I have never had to participate in a meeting that had to be abruptly adjourned because the crowd was so out of control."
But as the Tuscon Citizen now reports, community member Shelly Hickerson came forward Friday with a letter she had written to the district administration, including Superintendent James Lee, on March 11. Though the letter praises Davis' work, Hickerson also notes that a governing-board member "… told me she was concerned about [Davis’] lifestyle."
Davis, who told the Citizen that she had only learned of the anti-gay allegations on Friday, confirmed she had "lived alone since 2005 but I have been in gay relationships prior to that."
She went on to note, "The only thing that led to my belief that this may be a factor is the information revealed by a community member today. I never wanted to believe that this could be the issue but I guess I was wrong. I don’t like this. People should be judged on who they are as a person, not their orientation. This has nothing to do with the job I have done as a principal."
Take a look at other cases of employees allegedly being dismissed because they were LGBT below:
A Missouri-based gay music teacher at an area Catholic school was recently dismissed from his job after authorities learned of his plans to wed his male partner of 20 years in New York. Al Fischer was reportedly fired Feb. 17, 2012 from St. Ann Catholic School in north St. Louis County, where he'd worked for four years. Fischer did not comment directly about his dismissal, but instead referred to an email sent to his students' parents after he was terminated. "A family conversation about whether or not justice was served here could be a great thing," he wrote. "I do not want the lesson from this for the kids to be, 'Keep your mouth shut, hide who you are or what you think if it will get you in trouble.'" Fischer's partner, Charlie Robin, told the paper that the couple's relationship was not a secret at the school, and that Fischer was only fired after a representative of the St. Louis Archdiocese overheard him talking to co-workers about his wedding plans. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/29/al-fischer-gay-music-teacher-fired_n_1311324.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here</a>.