A Union Township, New Jersey, teacher is finding herself in hot water after she allegedly took to Facebook to criticize a school display (above) that recognizes Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender History Month.
The teacher, Viki Knox, purportedly posted comments on her personal page and referred to homosexuality as "a perverted spirit that has existed from the beginning of creation" and a "sin." Her comments also allegedly said that it "breeds like cancer." LifeSiteNews has more:
Knox...said that while she had friends and loved ones who were homosexual, 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.”
The Huffington Post also reports she wrote:
"Union is not South Orange/Maplewood where one out of four families consist of two Mommies or daddies… Why parade your unnatural immoral behaviors before the rest of us? I/we do not have to accept anything, anyone, any behavior or any choices! I do not have to tolerate anything others wish to do."
A complete PDF copy of the alleged comments can be found here.
John Paragano, a lawyer who formerly served as a township councilman, sent the district what he said was a copy of Knox's Facebook commentary.
Over the weekend, Paragano, who claims he was initially contacted by a parent in the district, wrote to the district and called for the teacher to be fired.
Knox, 49, is also the faculty adviser to The Seekers Fellowship, which is the high school's student prayer group (it's the local chapter of a nationwide group). Considering that, the case could quickly evolve into a religious freedom dispute in which the teacher's rights to post such commentary would be debated.
Paragano, though, doesn't believe Knox's comments are permissible. He writes, "Hateful public comments from a teacher cannot be tolerated. She has a right to say it. But she does not have a right to keep her job after saying it."
Currently, the district is looking into the incident, claiming that they are “taking the matter very seriously." Thus far, Knox hasn't given any official comments, but two people who wrote comments on the Facebook thread have said that the copy that Paragano secured is, indeed, authentic.
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey is also throwing its hat into the mix. While the group claims that it does not stand by Knox's comments, the organization is defending her right to make them. Ed Barocas, the group's legal director, says that she is protected by the First Amendment.
"The school has the right to investigate whether she is performing her job in accordance with school policies and the state's Law Against Discrimination," Barocas said. NJ.com has more on the debacle's implications:
It has also prompted gay rights advocates to question the ability of teachers who express such views to enforce New Jersey’s new anti-bullying law, adopted last spring in the wake of the suicide of Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers student who killed himself after learning he had been watched, via webcam, kissing another man.
Garden State Equality, a gay rights group, has joined Paragano in calling for Knox's dismissal. Meanwhile, the teacher's pastor has come to her defense. “No one is pointing to homosexuality as the ultimate sin. We all have sinned,” said Rev. Milton B. Hobbs, who serves as the pastor of New Covenant Fellowship in Clark, N.J.
“It’s not saying that people who are gay sin any more or less than anyone else. But to say that the Bible doesn’t say it’s a sin would be untrue. It does say that," he continued.
“Any Christian who makes a stand that’s unpopular can expect to be persecuted. That’s in the Bible, too. But no American should expect to be prosecuted for exercising free speech. At what point does that stop?”