April 1, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Philippe Isnard, 40, a history teacher who was suspended last November for having provided pro-life materials and shown images of aborted babies during a debate about abortion in his 10th grade class in Manosque, France, was fired from the National Education system on Thursday.
Isnard lost his position without salary, benefits or any right to financial compensation via the social welfare system.
He told LifeSiteNews.com he was “stunned” by the severity of the decision, even though he was beyond hoping for complete exoneration.
Revocation constitutes the harshest possible disciplinary measure for a teacher in the French public education system. Graded 4 on a scale of 1 to 4 of possible disciplinary measures, a full revocation can only be pronounced by the Education minister himself. It puts a full stop to the father-of-two’s teaching career in all state-funded schools.
The controversy around Isnard began last fall when several parents started a public campaign against the history teacher after he showed students aged 15 to 16 graphic video footage entitled, “No Need to Argue.”
The French mainstream media were quick to pick up the story. Fueled by a pro-abortion feminist organization, “Prochoix,” the campaign provoked angry media reactions calling on the Education ministry to take measures against Isnard.
The education minister, Luc Chatel, responded by publicly criticizing the teacher, saying: “What has happened is unacceptable. Professors are under obligation to respect neutrality and to have respect for the person.”
Shortly after Isnard was temporarily suspended in November, a “psychological counseling unit” was set up at Les Iscles high school to support students who had participated in the abortion debate. Reportedly no students have made use of its services.
The local Planned Parenthood was also invited into Les Iscles high school to follow up the debate, meeting with the students in groups of five.
For his part, Isnard has argued that he encouraged debate in the class. Students were encouraged to bring their own material, either for or against abortion, while Isnard himself provided Simone Veil’s Assembly speech promoting the first French law legalizing abortion, now known as the “Loi Veil,” pro-life video clips, a pro-life tract and “No Need to Argue.”
He says he warned his students about the shocking nature of some of the materials to be presented and told them they were free to leave the class if they wished.
Last month Isnard’s case went before a mixed commission of teachers’ union members and representatives of the Academic hierarchy of Aix-Marseille. According to information leaked, after the six-hour hearing all 38 members of the disciplinary commission voted for a disciplinary measure to be pronounced.
Isnard says he intends to appeal the minister’s decision. He has also created a pro-life group in his private capacity: ProVie France.
When asked whether he considered it appropriate to show graphic pictures of abortion to students aged 15 or 16, Isnard told LSN that the French National Education system considers such students as sexually mature. He pointed out that they receive information about contraception and abortion around age 13 or 14 and can obtain the morning-after pill in school infirmaries without their parents’ knowledge or consent.
“If they’re considered old enough to be sexually active, they should also be made aware of the consequences of their actions,” he said.
Monsieur Luc Chatel
Ministre de l’Education nationale
110 rue de Grenelle
75357 Paris SP 07