Gay Teacher Wrongfully Fired, ACLU Charges

May 7, 2002

Statement of ""John Doe"" ACLU client and plaintiff in federal civil rights case against Alabama school district issued by Pastor J.R. Finney, Covenant Metropolitan Community Church, Birmingham

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BIRMINGHAM, AL--I always wanted to be a teacher. For me, no other job compares to giving kids the skills, confidence and stability they need to develop into happy, healthy adults. 

In college here in Alabama, I majored in education, but I then left the state and went into another field. I got married, had kids and for years tried desperately to be heterosexual. 

Finally, I realized that I have to be true to myself - in every way. I got divorced and came back to Alabama, where I now live with my partner of several years. I also decided to finally become a teacher. I spent nearly two years earning the proper credentials for teaching in Alabama public schools. And I finally found a job doing what I do best, in the school where I had wanted to work all along. 

Everything was terrific for a couple of years. I created a brand new program that was wildly popular among students and won statewide awards. But my students didn't just get trophies and titles - they found out that they're good at something ? that they can achieve excellence. 

Toward the end of my second school year, I asked the principal if I'd be hired back the following year. He had always gone out of his way to tell me what a terrific job I was doing, and that day he assured me there was no doubt I'd be back. A month later, I met with him and received another excellent evaluation. But the very next day, I found out I was fired. 

Everyone was shocked - other teachers, my students and especially me. It just made no sense that I'd be fired. Within days, my students started circulating petitions asking the school to keep me. More than a quarter of the school's entire student body signed them. No matter what happens, I'll always be grateful for that. 

I spent many months looking for another job. I had to take a job as a delivery person, making less than half of what I used to earn. I lost my insurance and feared losing my home. But most of all, my dignity was taken from me. I've always believed that people aren't fired unless they did a bad job - being in that position was humiliating, because I didn't do a bad job. 

I know I'm a good teacher. My bosses know it and my students and their parents know it. I've always understood that the bargain here is that I do my job and do it well, and that I keep my private life private. I did that, and it didn't matter. I lost my job anyway. 

To read the complaint on this case please go to http://archive.aclu.org/court/alabama_doe.pdf

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