The past few years have been witnessed crumbling of institutional practices which prevent gay and lesbians from enjoying the full rights of citizenship. The right to marry is quickly spreading and the US military has finally decided if I am asked to die for my country, I have a right to marry in my country. Jerry Buell, a social studies teacher in a Florida high school has been suspended for making anti-gay remarks.
Mr. Buell did not make any insulting remarks in school, but on his Facebook account, he commented that news of gay marriage in New York made him “almost throw up.” He went on to term gay and lesbian unions as a “cesspool” as well as being a “sin.” He was suspended on grounds the newly adopted social media policy warns teachers not to use derogatory remarks about people. Buell argued he was speaking on his private Facebook and to suspend him violated freedom of speech.
Much as we dislike his comments, we also must never forget the essence of freedom of speech is the right to express ideas the majority may dislike. After all, years ago if someone said they believed in gay marriage a school might fire them. The issue is whether Mr. Buell at any time while engaged in teaching expressed ideas that were insulting to any student.
If Facebook is legal, then it must allow those on it to express their views without fear of punishment.