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Plucky Utah Fifth Graders Take On Homophobic Substitute Teacher And Win

Education
Sideways Stories from Wayside School

Substitute teachers! Most of the time they were fun. You played some "heads up seven up," convinced them your last name was pronounced in various bizarre ways ("It's pronounced Smith, the everything is silent"), and generally had to do less real work than when the actual teacher was in. Unfortunately, for one fifth grade class at Deerfield Elementary School in Cedar Hills, Utah last week, their substitute teacher was not so much fun as she was a mean, vicious homophobic nightmare person.

Being that it was right before Thanksgiving, said substitute teacher decided to go around the classroom and ask all the kids to say what they were thankful for — along with hand-shaped turkeys, a fairly traditional activity. The kids varyingly said they were thankful for things like dogs and having the day off from school and things like that until eventually, she got to one boy who said "I'm thankful that I'm finally going to be adopted by my two dads."

That's nice, right? A kid getting adopted! What kind of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad person would be a jerk about that? This broad, apparently.


"Why on earth would you be happy about that?" she snapped, at a ten-year-old child. She then, according to the students, proceeded to go on for ten minutes, lecturing them about how she thinks gay people are bad and that the boys parents are "sinful." Three girls in the class begged her to stop and when she insisted upon continuing, eventually left the room to go get the principal.

Can you just imagine?

Everything else aside, what the hell was it that she though she was going to accomplish here? What did she want this ten-year-old kid to do? Did she want him to be sad he was getting adopted? Did she hope that he would say "Oh wow, lady I just met ten minutes ago, I never thought of it that way! I had no idea that my having parents would be so traumatic for you, an adult woman whom I will almost definitely never run into again. Can you help me get into an orphanage somewhere?"

Whatever it was, it clearly didn't work out as she had hoped, because she ended up being escorted out of the building, still going on about her issues with gay people.

But you know what? She doesn't matter. That kid matters. Those three girls who stood up for him matter. The principal, who took them seriously and made the Utah auxiliary of the Westboro Baptist Church leave the school grounds, matters. That's incredible. It's such a difference from when I was in school, I cannot tell you. It warms my heart. These kids, truly, are all right.

And with that little nice time, this is now your open thread! Enjoy!

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse

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