After her daughter's eighth grade math teacher wore an anti-gay marriage pin to school, Cynthia Deford, a gay parent in Port Angeles, Washington, started an online campaign to ban teachers from promoting political causes in the classroom.
The Steven's Middle School teacher, who has remained unnamed, wore a button to class in the days before the Nov. 6 election that stated “No on 74: one man + one woman = marriage," according to Deford. The political message refers to Washington's Referendum 74, which legalized gay marriage in the state, passing with 52 percent of the vote.
Although Port Angeles School District Superintendent Jane Pryne told the Peninsula Daily News that the issue has been addressed, and the school district already has policy regarding politics in the classroom in place, Deford wants more to be done; she is calling for an official apology and sensitivity training for teachers.
"It just shocked me that it happened here," Deford told the Peninsula Daily News.
In her online petition on SignOn.org, Deford wrote that her daughter came home upset after seeing a teacher -- who she once thought highly of -- wear such a discriminatory button in class.
"Now she is uncomfortable with him and does not want to go back to his class," Deford wrote, adding that her daughter now has to worry about discrimination, where she didn't before.
Deford describes what happened after she contacted the principal with her concerns:
At parent/teacher conferences this teacher told us that he took the button off "out of respect" for (my daughter) and went on to tell us that he and his wife are proud to be part of the marriage equality opposition campaign. He claimed there was nothing wrong bringing his views into the math class -- that he only took the button off "out of respect," which indicates he knew it could be disrespectful to begin with.
At press time, Deford's online petition, which will be delivered to Principal Chuck Lisk, Superintendent Pryne and President Barack Obama, received 240 of 300 required signatures.
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