Posted On 02 Dec 2019
A substitute teacher was fired from a Utah elementary school after she allegedly told a fifth grade student with two dads that “homosexuality is wrong.”
She is accused of making the comment during a pre-Thanksgiving exercise at Deerfield Elementary School in Cedar Hills, Utah, when students were asked what they were thankful for this year. One of the student’s dads, Louis van Amstel, said his son told the class that he is thankful for his two fathers, who are in the process of officially adopting him.
“I got choked up when he said he is thankful that he is finally being adopted by his two dads,” van Amstel, a former dancer on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” said in a video posted to social media on Nov. 22. “Well, the substitute teacher was giving her very clear opinion about two men is wrong, homosexuality is wrong. Yeah, so you can imagine that set us off.”
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According to The Salt Lake Tribune, after the student said he was thankful about being adopted by his dads, the teacher asked him, “Why on earth would you be happy about that?” before proceeding to lecture the class of 30 students about how “two men living together is a sin.” She also reportedly looked at the boy and said, “That’s nothing to be thankful for.”
Van Amstel said that his 11-year-old son didn’t want to talk about the incident or get the substitute teacher in trouble, but that three of his classmates told the teacher to stop and went to the principal’s office to notify the administration about her behavior. She was reportedly escorted out of the building shortly after the incident.
“I’m proud of those three girls and [my son’s] school for standing up for our family against this bully,” van Amstel wrote on Instagram the same day of the incident. “I’m truly disgusted that the bully in this situation is a teacher in a public school.”
Alpine School District spokesman David Stephenson told NBC News in an email that “the school took appropriate action” based on its investigation and directed further questions to Kelly Services, a staffing company that hires substitutes in the district.
“We are concerned about any reports of inappropriate conduct and take these matters very seriously,” Anna Schryver, a spokesperson for Kelly Services, wrote in an email. “We conducted an investigation and made the decision to end the employee’s relationship with Kelly Services.”
Van Amstel said he is touched by the support people have shown him and his family. A few days after the incident, according to The Associated Press, the family’s neighbors decorated their house with paper hearts that said, “We love you” and “We support you.”