Alex Blaze

Fired Gay Teacher Gets $75,000

Filed By Alex Blaze | February 14, 2011 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: coming out of the closet, education policy, LGBT, LGBT youth, oregon, queer, seth stambaugh, teachers

The student-teacher who was removed from a fourth-grade class for coming out to students but was reinstated after public outcry settled with the school:

seth_stambaugh.jpegThe Beaverton School District has agreed to pay $75,000 to a gay student teacher who was removed from his job several months ago.

Lawyers for Seth Stambaugh and district officials jointly announced the resolution Friday.

Litigation was taken off the table as part of the agreement and the district "will provide leadership training concerning issues related to sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression."[...]

District leaders say this has been a learning experience, but they are looking forward to the future.

"As an organization, we want to move forward and be better at being more inclusive and more open and more accepting of our differences," says Maureen Wheeler, Beaverton schools spokeswoman.

This was the same spokeperson who said, just a few months ago, that they removed him not because he was gay, but because their "concerns were about the professional judgment and age appropriateness." I guess they realized no one was going to buy that line, considering how straight teachers come out all the time without getting fired.

All I'll say is that it's too bad that it came to this. Whoever actually made the decision to remove Stambaugh will not be paying the $75,000. Instead, the school will absorb the cost, and it'll come at the expense of something that's actually related to educating students, students who didn't have any choice when it came to removing this student-teacher.

But it's probably the only way to make a point and to send a message to other schools that their constant advice to queer teachers to stay closeted just isn't appropriate and does nothing to help anyone.


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YAY!

Yes, it hurts the education fund a bit, but education doesn't seem to be the most important issue to these adminstrators anyhow. Maybe now they will be more inclusive even if they oppose that approach. Personally, I'd have been happy if it the settlement had been in the high 6 figures, would have sent an even stronger message.

Really, it's all about power for ppl like these, in my experience, and the legal system and financial impact get their attention. Not just that, but it also gets the attention of the school attornies other places, so it is less likely to happen there, too--look at what happened in the South with lawsuits that followed the one Constance brought.

What would be great is if some local ppl would sue the adminstrators responsible for firing this guy to get the school's money back from them b/c. I don't know if you can sue such ppl for bad decisions in their jobs or not, but would have even more impact. At the very least these admins should be fired or voted out as soon as possible.

He taught the school's administration a valuable lesson about discrimination. You can think of that $75k as his fee for services rendered.

The district was incredibly stupid. There are many trans people and queer people who are terminated as teachers because of who they are (it happened to me) and don't get a cent. The schools pink slip them with other staff and it's virtually impossible to sue for discrimination even if, as in my case, it happened in a city with strong anti-discrmination policies in a state with strong protections. If the district had any brains, you can terminate untenured teachers (and he was just a student teacher) for literally any reason so long as you say it with a smile and do it when other layoffs are happening.

A New Jersey trans woman substitute teacher was initially 'supported' by her district after a big stink was made about her transition, but then, 2 years later, reported she basically never got sub assignments anymore and was getting out of teaching. So they got the good publicity for being progressive yet still had the joy of marginalizing her. That's how you do it.

I'm glad Seth got the money and was reinstated. Even though he went through all that crap, he pretty much hit the lottery. A lot of other people aren't so 'lucky.'

I was thinking the same thing - especially since his lawyer was saying it was a tough case since student-teachers aren't covered by oregon anti-discrimination legislation.

Anthony Carter | February 15, 2011 2:24 AM

thank goodness .. progress and some steps forward. I read this about this in the fall and was outraged. I have taught many young people and wrote about Seth in a blog post "Stupidity and Hatred for the masses on queertoday.com

Finally a teacher is paid a reasonable salary - when you add the $75k to his regular salary!

Remember, he's not a teacher and has no salary. He doesn't even have a credential. He's a student. I think that makes 75K quite a bit. Again, there are very few actual teachers who have been fired for similar reasons who've received a plugged nickel. One of the few was Dana Rivers in the 1990s, a high school teacher who transitioned, who became a story on national media and they gave her an undisclosed sum to shut her up and make her go away (she's now teaching in a San Francisco jail program: http://www.ebar.com/news/article.php?sec=news&article=2582)

$75K Extra is small potatoes to the school systems! In New Jersey many Superintendents and administrators get that extra every year as a pay raise for "doing well"! When you think of the average teacher earning normally about $40K-$50K, and teachers with 25 years of service earning less that $80K we do not as a country think much of teacher's. I just wonder how long that the school system will take to pay out that $75K to the teacher!

For once I'm ashamed of being from Oregon. Beaverton is a pretty upscale-ish suburb (well, its working on it) and I assume there's limits to what upper middle class folk think of as being progressive.