'It's a perverted sin and breeds like cancer': High school teacher faces sack over anti-gay Facebook comments
A New Jersey school teacher accused of writing anti-gay comments on Facebook is stirring a new pot on free speech rights versus her possible termination.
Tenure charges were formally filed against high school English teacher Viki Knox, 50, last month after she was placed on leave in September for words her school board argues to be potentially harmful to their students.
'Why parade your unnatural immoral behaviors before the rest of us?' a Facebook user with her name wrote calling homosexuality 'a perverted spirit,' 'sin,' and which 'breeds like cancer,' according to NJ.com.
Teacher: Viki Knox has quit after writing anti-gay comments on Facebook
Ms Knox, who was the faculty adviser to Union High School's Bible study group, is believed to have been upset over a school display marking Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender History Month.
'I DO NOT HAVE TO TOLERATE ANYTHING OTHERS WISH TO DO. I DO HAVE TO LOVE AND SPEAK AND DO WHAT'S RIGHT!' the Facebook user believed to have been Ms Knox wrote.
The posts resulted in a three-month investigation with Ms Knox being sent on paid administrative leave.
'It's a difficult issue,' the school board's president Francis R. Perkins told MSNBC explaining that social media sites like Facebook are just another place teachers may meet up with their students.
Two sides: Supporters for Ms Knox along with critics wanting her fired formed their own Facebook pages to voice their own discussions on how the case should be handled
Mr Perkens says that the Township of
union school board isn't currently discussing policies for social media
sites with their teachers but says their attorney has discussed
'appropriate actions' for them online, according to MSNBC.
'We trust teachers to treat students with respect and to deal with them appropriately,' he said.
'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,' Mr Perkins told NJ.com.
School: Ms Knox, 51, had worked at Union High School for over a decade
Two separate pages on Facebook have since been set up by advocates for Ms Knox, as well as those who want her fired.
Those supporting her argue the post was on her personal Facebook page.
Many others flocking to the page, which has received 697 'likes' as of Thursday night, has attracted a great many Christians as well, bringing religion into her accused arguments against gays.
The Fire Viki Knox page, which has received 859 'likes' in comparison, mentions the Union High School's belief statement as an argument against her accused words.
It states that the high school lists 'embracing diversity as one of its goals, including sexual orientation.'
Relations: While policies on electronic communication between students and teachers in New Jersey are optional, some districts are beginning to offer training and guidance to their teachers
An attorney who wrote a letter to Chief School Administrator Patrick Martin after seeing the Facebook posting explained himself, according to NJ.com, that while Ms Knox or any other teacher has a right to say it, 'she does not have a right to keep her job after saying it.'
Across the country other schools are working on such policies involving teachers and their students on social media sites.
In Missouri where electronic communication between teachers and students was banned to prevent problems like Union High School's, the state's teachers' union were able to persuade a judge as seeing it unconstitutional, citing their first amendment rights of freedom of speech jeopardized.
Lawmakers in Missouri have since asked their school boards to formulate their own policies on electronic communication regarding student-pupil relations by March 1.
According to a spokesman for the New Jersey School Boards Association, while the social media policies are optional within the state, various districts are working toward moves such as increased training to their teachers on electronic communication.
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