Homophobic Facebook Rants Puts N.J. Teacher on Un-Tenure Fast Track
School board officials from the Union Township, N.J., school district have started the firing process of a high school English teacher who made anti-gay comments on Facebook last September, Nj.com reported in a Jan. 12 article.
Union Township is located about 55 miles northeast of Trenton, the state capital.
Late last month, the board officially filed tenure charges against Viki Knox, thus starting the long and expensive process to fire Knox.
"Every student, no matter what race, creed color or sexual orientation ought to be able to come to school and feel comfortable in a learning environment that's welcoming and nurturing," Ray Perkins, the school board president, said.
Knox's comments created a huge controversy and gained the media's attention when she allegedly compared gays to cancer and said that homosexuality is "a perverted sin" on Facebook, EDGE reported in an Oct. 2011, article.
"Why parade your unnatural immoral behaviors before the rest of us?" Knox allegedly wrote. "I DO NOT HAVE TO TOLERATE ANYTHING OTHERS WISH TO DO. I DO HAVE TO LOVE AND SPEAK AND DO WHAT'S RIGHT!"
Knox was reacting to Union High School's celebration of LGBT History Month. The school put together an exhibit of famous members of the LGBT community, including Harvey Milk, Chaz Bono and actor Neil Patrick Harris.
EDGE also noted in an Oct. 2011, article that one of Knox's students told the media (before an Oct. 18 board meeting) that Knox taught her students during class time that homosexuality is a "sin" and that it "breeds like cancer" -- statements that are identical to the ones Knox allegedly posted on the social networking site.
Some believe that Knox's hateful comments were out of line and make for a hostile learning environment for LGBT youth. Others say that the English teacher is covered by freedom of speech and has a right to speak her mind about her religious beliefs.
Right-wing website American Thinker defended Knox. The writer said that she is in fact protected under the First Amendment. They claim that because New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said he doesn't believe homosexuality is a sin in an interview on CNN and wasn't punished, the same standards should be applied to Knox.
"Knox believes that homosexuality is a sin," the article says. "She posted her belief -- not on an official school web site, but on her personal Facebook page."
GOP candidate Newt Gingrich recently said he would protect religious freedoms of Christians while campaigning in South Carolina, Think Progress reported.
"The challenge we have is anti-Christian bigotry that has forced the Catholic Church to close its adoption service in Massachusetts because it actually wanted to follow the tenets of Christianity," the former House speaker said. "And you look all around this country and you see again and again, whether it's a judge knocking down a cross... I am your President, if you help me win this election, we will not tolerate a speech dictatorship in this country against Christianity."
In a similar incident to Knox's, the mayor of Troy, Mich., was recently in the spotlight for making anti-gay comments on her Facebook page, EDGE reported in December.
"I think I am going to throw away my' I Love New York' carrying bag now that queers can get married there," Janice Daniels wrote, soon after New York legalized gay marriage.
Once her comments made the national news, she once again took to Facebook and wrote that her post "may have not been the most appropriate language."
"It's my personal belief that marriage is between one man and one woman," she said. "I love people, but I want to acknowledge my First Amendment right to speak freely. I know that as mayor, I represent all of the people in this city."
It was too late to "apologize," however, as her regular employer, Century 21, announced they fired Daniels.
"The owner stated that he can have no one in his company, either employee or independent contractor, who would be capable of such insensitivity to the LGBT community, or to anyone for that matter," said spokeswoman for Century 21, Nancy Robinson.
She still serves as the city's mayor.