Running a school is a huge challenge for anyone, but what does sexual orientation have to do with it? As a teacher with over twenty-five years’ experience, I’ve worked under several principals, some good and some bad. But their sexuality was irrelevant to their job performance.
Apparently the Board of Paradise Valley Unified School District in Arizona disagrees. On March 15th, they decided to fire Paradise Valley High School Principal Cynthia Davis after a ‘concerned community member’ sent in a letter stating she suspected Davis was a lesbian and thus living a ‘questionable lifestyle.’ This in spite of the fact that the district has anti-gay discrimination written into their policies.
Earlier this month, Davis was told her contract would not be renewed because administrators had a problem with “her leadership ability and style,” according to the Arizona Republic. However, several parents expressed their praise for Davis, including Shelly Hickerson, the parent of a former student and a member of the group that decided to hire Davis. Hickerson wrote a letter to school administrators, claiming that a board member had expressed concern about Davis’s ‘lifestyle.’
Uproar At Board Meeting
Did the board anticipate the response? When they voted 5-0 not to renew Cynthia Davis’s contract, parents, students and fellow educators exploded in an angry uproar. As My Fox Phoenix reported, things eventually got so heated that a police helicopter arrived and local police had to escort board members to their cars.
Governing-board president Sue Skidmore told the Republic that Davis was let go because of a personnel issue, and would not comment on the full reason as to why her contract was not renewed.
Cynthia Davis Speaks Out
Davis said she learned of the allegation of the “lifestyle” comment on Friday.
“I have lived alone since 2005 but I have been in gay relationships prior to that. I have always separated my private and professional lives,” she said Friday night. “The only thing that led to my belief that this may be a factor is the information revealed by a community member today.
“I never wanted to believe that this could be the issue but I guess I was wrong. I don’t like this. People should be judged on who they are as a person, not their orientation. This has nothing to do with the job I have done as a principal.”
As an education reporter, I frequently receive reports like this one: “Teacher Admits Sexual Misconduct With Boy, 16.”
These are almost always incidents of heterosexual activity.
But when a beloved, hardworking school principal happens to be gay, she is deemed not fit to be around young people.
This is outrageous.
Photo Credit: screenshot from Arizona12news.com