Posted by: Catherine Lugg | October 8, 2010

Student teacher pulled from placement

Nearly 30 years ago, a friend was pulled from student teaching and failed, kicked out of the music education program and then from school. At the time, all I and anyone else could learn was this flunking and expulsion was strongly contested by our friend’s cooperating teacher–all for naught. But we were never given any reason for our friend’s career extermination.

Today, I suspect my hapless friend was “outed” by a particularly vindictive university supervisor. LGBT people had no legal protections in the mid-1980s and AIDS phobia was rampant. Queer educators, particularly novice queer educators, were sitting ducks for homophobic colleagues, school boards, and the occasional university supervisor. Historians Jackie Blount and Karen Graves have documented the just how homophobic public school settings could be for queer educators.

It’s why I am saddened that the Beaverton (Ore.) public school district barred Seth Stambaugh from its system after he told a 4th grade student that he couldn’t get married in Oregon because gay marriage was illegal. This response was to the student’s question as to why he wasn’t married. The student’s parents called in a complaint about Stambaugh, demanding that their child be removed from Stambaugh’s classroom. Instead, the school district banned Stambaugh for inappropriate behavior–not bothering to consult Lewis & Clark (where he is an education major and placed Stambaugh) or Stambaugh himself.

Now, children are curious as to why adults are and are not married. And from press accounts, it appears Stambaugh was completely matter-of-fact in responding to the student’s question. Then, he let the matter drop, which any teacher would do whether they were queer or non-queer. But in a homophobic culture, a perfectly reasonable response becomes gay propaganda inflicted on the impressionable minds of young school children. *SIGH*! For as much as things have changed in the US for queer educators, I’m saddened that this abuse is still happening.


  1. To clarify: To this day, I don’t know if this person was queer or not. But all that mattered in the bad old days was the perceptions of those with power to do harm. And it’s the only reason (given the silence on the matter), that I can think of that a person would be pulled from student teaching and then given the boot OVER the objections of the cooperating teacher.

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