A Michigan teen who has two moms claimed that her teacher would not allow her to discuss gay marriage for a school assignment.
Early this month, 17-year-old Destiney McDermitt, received an assignment from her teacher at Hill McCloy High School in Montrose, Mich. According to the “Take A Stand” assignment — which McDermitt has shared with Yahoo Lifestyle — students were tasked with “choosing an issue about which you feel strongly and take a stand for or against.” The bottom of the paper instructed students that they were not permitted to talk about things that were already discussed in another class and topics that were deemed “awkward or inappropriate for a school audience” for which the teacher only named abortion.
McDermitt wanted to discuss the topic of gay marriage, but her teacher, whose name has not been released, would not allow it. “She then told me ‘no it might offend someone in the class,’” McDermitt tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “So I asked if she could do a vote to see if it offended anyone, she then said, ‘No I don’t want to hear about it, read, or see that and I’m the one that has to grade it.’ Multiple people in the class heard what she said to me and I found it inappropriate, so I immediately got a hold of my mother.”
The topic of gay marriage hit close to home for McDermitt.
“The reason why I chose gay marriage is because I have two moms [who] I love. It was supposed to be a topic that I feel strongly for and it was personal in my life so I thought it would be perfect to do,” she said.
McDermitt’s moms, Angela McDermitt-Jackson and Chris Jackson, have been married since January 2015. And it was no surprise that they were not happy to hear about what happened.
“I was extremely upset to hear that [the teacher] was allowed to turn down that topic considering that’s discrimination and there’s such thing as freedom of speech,” McDermitt-Jackson tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “My daughter should have been allowed to write that paper...I was very upset. I was hurt for her, I was hurt for me and for anybody else like myself.”
McDermitt-Jackson said that the teacher’s unwillingness to ask the class about how they felt about gay marriage showed her own biased opinion, which could have had a negative effect on the students, queer students in particular.
“My biggest thing too about the teacher is what if there had been a student in there who has been struggling...to find a way to come out and tell his [or her] parents... And to hear that come out of a teacher’s mouth, somebody in a leadership role, might [have] been the straw that broke the camel’s back. Who’s to say that that child wouldn’t [have] felt like, my teacher says that’s unacceptable, I really can’t tell anybody.’”
As of Monday, the teacher remains on the job, but McDermitt-Jackson said that she and her wife were planning on taking action, including calling for the firing of the teacher in question. More importantly, McDermitt-Jackson said she was proud of her daughter for taking a stand.
“I think it’s brave in today’s society...I think it’s wonderful that she’s willing to say, ‘Hey, listen, this is how I feel on gay marriage. You know, I have two moms.’ I’m very proud of her,” she says.
McDermitt gives a lot of credit to her moms for teaching her about love. “The love my moms have for each other is unbreakable,” she says. “They do not care about what anyone has to say about their love for each other [and] their love taught me to never give up on something I believe in.”
The Montrose Community Schools Superintendent Linden Moore released a statement to Yahoo Lifestyle regarding the incident, which reads, in part: “Montrose Community Schools continues to work with our staff, students, and community to ensure it is an inclusive place where everyone can feel comfortable to learn. In this case, the teacher attempted to avoid disruption and controversy by limiting the topics that students could choose for a writing assignment. Unfortunately, although well‐intentioned, the teacher was too restrictive.”
Montrose says it remains “committed to its responsibilities to safeguard, nurture and develop our students” and that policies and procedures are in place to “to investigate/address allegations of unlawful harassment, discrimination, or bullying.”
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