MOUNT DORA, FL, August 25, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A social studies teacher who was suspended from the classroom due to comments he made on his private Facebook page condemning same-sex “marriage” is now being allowed to return to his teaching duties.
Jerry Buell’s re-instatement was announced yesterday in a press release issued by Liberty Counsel, the non-profit organization that represented him when the Lake County School Board launched an investigation after receiving a complaint about his post.
Commenting on New York’s legalization of same-sex marriage, Buell had written: “I’m watching the news, eating dinner, when the story about New York okaying same sex unions came on and I almost threw up.”
He went on to post: “And now they show two guys kissing after their announcement. If they want to call it a union, go ahead. But don’t insult a man and woman’s marriage by throwing it in the same cesspool as same-sex whatever! God will not be mocked. When did this sin become acceptable???”
According to Liberty Counsel’s statement, the complaint was lodged by a 2002 graduate of Mount Dora High School, who had never had Buell as a teacher.
Buell is a veteran teacher at the Florida high school, and chair of the school’s social studies department. He was named teacher of the year in 2010.
After a weeklong investigation to determine whether the comments constituted an ethics code violation, Buell was re-instated three days after the school year began.
“This is a great day for the Constitution. By fully exonerating Mr. Buell, the Lake County School Board has reaffirmed what the rest of Americans already knew. The First Amendment protects the right of public servants to express their personal opinion without any fear or intimidation. It is a shame that Mr. Buell had to miss three days of teaching for his employer to learn this lesson,” Harry Mihet, Senior Litigation Counsel for Liberty Counsel, commented.
According to an Orlando Sentinel report, Buell met with Lake County School Superintendent Susan Moxley for about an hour before Moxley announced her decision. It was also announced that a “written directive,” the contents of which will be available to the public in ten days, has been placed in Buell’s file.
Although Buell has said that he is taking down his Facebook page, he told CNN in an interview earlier this week that he stands by the comments he made there.
“I stand by what I said. One of the things that make America great is the fact that we can disagree, and there’s nothing wrong with passion,” Buell said. “It was not use of bad language or anything, just passionate words.”
In response to a question about returning to a classroom that may include homosexual students, Buell said that he respected all his students “as the children of God and creations of God that they are.”
“I explain to my students, you won’t feel safer, you won’t find a place you’ll be more respected, and you won’t find a place you’ll have more fun all day, and I would challenge anybody to ask any one of my thousands of students if that has not proven to be true,” he said.