SAN LUIS OBISPO, California, June 17, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A California teacher resigned after a letter he wrote for the school newspaper condemning homosexuality caused backlash.
Michael Stack, a special education teacher at San Luis Obispo High School, submitted the letter to editor of the online Expressions responding to its May issue covering LGBT issues that contained a cover photo of two women kissing.
He resigned May 11, the same day someone called in a death threat for him to the school.
Stack had faced criticism after citing the Bible on the sinfulness of homosexuality in the letter.
The passage he referenced (Romans 1:16-32) states that individuals who take part in homosexual acts “suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved” “as a result of this sin.”
“Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God,” it says, “He abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done.” The passage goes on to describe various elements of wickedness and into which their lives would descend because of God’s abandonment.
“They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway,” it states. “Worse yet, they encourage others to do them too.”
Stack said he wrote these things “in order to lift up those who have stumbled, or may stumble, and put you back on the right path.”
Stack had written as well that the Bible teaches we are all accountable for our actions and that teachers are especially accountable.
“I love the staff and students at SLOHS. My students know that,” he said. “But I love God more, so in obedience to Him, I am writing this letter.”
Aric Sweeney, editor-in-chief of Expressions and a senior at the high school, said he decided to publish the letter after talking with his staff adviser, according to Teen Vogue.
“Good journalism includes giving voice to both sides regardless of whether or not I agree with him,” Sweeney said. “Because I’ll say up front, I disagree with everything he said in the letter to the editor but decided to include it anyway because it’s important to give him a voice.”
The city’s mayor, Heidi Harmon, was part of the pushback, promoting and taking part in a protest at the school in support of its LGBTQ community. She called the letter “unacceptable” on Facebook.
The school had said it wouldn’t discipline Stack, the San Luis Obispo Tribune reported, saying teachers as well as students “do not shed their First Amendment rights” at school.
“A bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea offensive or disagreeable,” San Luis Coastal Unified School District Superintendent Eric Prater and Principal Leslie O’Connor said in a joint statement the day before Stack quit.
“As a district, we understand that students do not shed their First Amendment rights at school, and we respect the rights of our students to speak on controversial topics,” the statement said. “We applaud the high school’s commitment to open dialogue and a free exchange of ideas in its student newspaper,” the statement read. “ … In a similar manner, we acknowledge the right of our staff to voice their opinions.”
Stack was a probationary teacher in his first year at the high school, it also said. And at O’Connor’s recommendation, the district had decided in February not to keep him on staff for the next school year.
“We are concerned for his safety,” Prater had said after Stack did not show up to work on May 11. No one from the school could reach him. The protest took place at the school that day as well.
Stack later sent an email to the school, along with Fox News, announcing his resignation.
“The community apparently wants me out,” he said, “so I hereby grant them their desires.”
“I exercised my First Amendment rights and submitted my opinion in a public forum,” he wrote. “Now people are exercising their First Amendment rights by responding to that letter. This is how America is designed to function.”