The Times reported that, after telling a friend that she was “pitching a fit” about the display, which included photos of such famed individuals as author Virginia Woolf, former San Francisco politician Harvey Milk, and actor Neil Patrick Harris, Knox “defended her views in lengthy exchanges with other Facebook users, referring at times to God and her Christian beliefs.” Knox’s Facebook page has since been removed from public view.
According to the Times, “Knox wrote that while she had friends and loved ones who were gay, she believed that the way they lived was ‘against the nature and character of God’ and that the high school was ‘not the setting to promote, encourage, support and foster homosexuality.’”
When a Union Township resident challenged Knox’s Facebook comments, the teacher responded:
God cannot abide, tolerate, accept, go along with SIN. That’s why Jesus came and gave his life as an offering for our souls; so we could once again be right-standing. Everything God has created, Satan has perverted, EVERYTHING! Sin is sin. Wrong is wrong. [Emphasis in original.]
Union Township chief school administrator Patrick Martin said he was looking into Facebook postings, but declined to comment on possible repercussions. “The district is taking the matter very seriously,” he affirmed. “We are running a thorough investigation. We will take all appropriate actions.”
The Times quoted Edward Barocas, legal director of New Jersey’s American Civil Liberties Union franchise, as saying that "while we do not agree with the sentiments expressed on Ms. Knox’s personal Facebook page, her beliefs and comments are protected by the First Amendment.” But Barocas also cautioned that because the teacher’s comments “raised questions about her conduct within school, the school district can and should investigate whether she is performing her job in accordance with school policies and the state’s Law Against Discrimination.”
Of course, homosexual activists quickly descended upon Knox, with a “gay” rights group know as Garden State Equality reportedly sending out an e-mail blast demanding that she immediately be dismissed from her job of 12 years. “If these Facebook posts are from Ms. Knox, she should not be teaching our children in public schools,” proclaimed the group’s leader, Steven Goldstein.
Goldstein told the New Jersey Star-Ledger, which broke the story, that Knox “has the freedom to say whatever she wants. But her employer has every right to hold her accountable. Teachers are supposed to be role models for our children, not hatemongers.”
Similarly, John Paragano, an attorney and former member of the Union Township Committee, was quoted by the Times as saying that Knox may be unfit to enforce New Jersey’s oppressive “anti-bullying” law, aimed at buffering homosexuals from all criticism of their lifestyle. “Teachers are at the forefront of … enforcing that,” said Paragano. “My concern is that if this teacher has these feelings, is she going to call out the bullying of a gay, lesbian and transgender person?”
In a letter to the school district, the pro-homosexual Human Rights Campaign called Knox’s comments “unacceptable,” adding,
[She] should be serving as an educator and role model for her students. Instead, she is sending a very clear message that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender is not right — a hurtful message for students. She is failing in her responsibility to ensure all students feel safe and confident in their communities.
Knox is not the first teacher who has endured a backlash for Facebook comments critical of homosexuality. As reported by The New American, in August a former Florida “Teacher of the Year” was briefly suspended from his position for negative comments he made after the legalization of homosexual marriage in New York.
In a July 25 Facebook posting, Jerry Buell, a social studies teacher in a Mount Dora, Florida high school, wrote: “I’m watching the news, eating dinner when the story about New York okaying same-sex unions came on and I almost threw up. And now they showed 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 of whatever. God will not be mocked. When did this sin become acceptable?”
Buell was immediately attacked by homosexual rights groups, who demanded his termination. A spokesman for the Lake County School District, where Buell is employed, said school officials “took the allegations seriously” and would investigate fully. The spokesman emphasized that “all teachers are bound by a code of special ethics [and] this is a code [of] ethics violation investigation.”
Buell told FOX News that he was stunned by the response to his private comments. “It was my own personal comment on my own personal time on my own personal computer in my own personal house, exercising what I believed as a social studies teacher to be my First Amendment rights,” he said.
Commenting on the First Amendment implications of Buell’s case, Harry Mihet of Liberty Counsel, the conservative legal advocacy group representing the teacher, noted: “Public school teachers are not constitutional orphans. They, like all Americans, enjoy the freedom to engage in discourse about matters of public concern.”
As reported by Cort Kirkwood in a subsequent article in The New American, after Liberty Counsel clearly explained Buell’s First Amendment guarantees to school officials, and warned of the consequences should the district fail to honor them, the district completed its “investigation” and returned Buell to his classroom with no further discipline.
The Liberty Counsel’s Harry Mihet pointed out that “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.”
Screen-grab at top: Vicki Knox, from her Facebook page