Principal Dorothy Bond of Haywood High School in Brownsville, Tennessee, is the subject of media attention after she reportedly told gay students that they would go to hell. She also reportedly said that pregnant students would end up “jobless, homeless and living off the Government.”
Parents are hot under the collar and the comments could drive a wedge between people living there.
“At first she was talking about PDA and she turned around and she directly pointed to the gay people and said if you’re gay you’re going to hell and if you’re pregnant, you’re life is over,” Amber Whittiemore said.
Whittiemore wasn’t there to hear those words but her friend, who is gay, was. She called Amber in tears.
“When I heard about it, I was outraged,” said Haywood High School parent Tony Snipes.
Snipes says Principal Dorothy Bond has a habit of pushing the envelope.
“A couple of years ago when she was principal over at Sunny Hill one of my children had his hair in braids. At an assembly she told the young men if they’re sitting between the legs of a girl getting their hair braided for a few hours, that they must be gay,” Snipes said.
However, not all parents are critical of Bond, with some saying that she is acting on her beliefs and that she has the kids’ best interests at heart. However, other parents have said this goes beyond any kind of duty she has as principal and is in fact evidence of her proselytizing.
A press release from the ACLU of Tennessee reveals further details.
The statement says that “multiple students” have contacted them regarding an assembly that took place Feb. 9. During that assembly, Principal Bond is reported to have said that gay people are “ruining their lives.” She then apparently threatened severe punishments, such as 60-day suspensions, assignments to an alternative school, or even expulsion, for any student observed to have publicly displayed affection for a member of the same sex. The press release notes that the school already has a policy against public displays of affection. That policy is sexual orientation neutral. Bond’s statement would, therefore, be an addition to that which appears to single out gay identifying kids.
The ACLU has taken swift action over this, writing a letter to the superintendent of the Haywood County school district, wherein it points out that this latest incident seems to be indicative of a larger problem:
The incident appears to be part of a broader pattern of official anti-gay remarks and policies by the principal, and of incorporating prayers and proselytizing into school events. On one occasion, school officials scolded students who did not bow their heads in prayer and threatened them with discipline. On another occasion, the principal told a lesbian student that she would go to “hell” because of her sexual orientation.
“Students have the right to be who they are at school,” said Amanda Goad, staff attorney with the ACLU LGBT Project. “LGBT students and pregnant and parenting students have just as much right to complete their education as any other student, but too often they face significant barriers or outright discrimination. It’s appalling to think that a principal would kick students out of public school based on her personal religious views.”
The ACLU has asked the school to clarify that students have the constitutional right to identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual; to acknowledge that two students of the same sex are dating; to express LGBT-friendly political views; and to receive an education free from the unlawful promotion of religion by school officials.
At the time of writing, Principal Bond is yet to make a statement. ABC 24 quotes a spokesperson for the district as having said that the district in no way condones discrimination on grounds of personal characteristics. There has not yet been any word on whether disciplinary action will be taken against Bond.
This post is a developing story and will be updated if and when further information becomes available.
UPDATE: The Jackson Sun reports that, according to the school system’s law firm, Dorothy Bond has resigned her position. A statement released through Purcell, Sellers & Craig, Inc., stresses that the Haywood County Board of Education wants to foster an “atmosphere of tolerance and diversity.”
Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to Cesar Augusto Serna Sz