Vegan Advocate Loses His Job Over Facebook Post Dissing Dairy Industry
Meet Keith Allison from rural Ohio. He’s a vegan, and he works in education at Green Local Schools. Unfortunately, one of his Facebook posts, written on his private account and in his own time, proves that veganism and education don’t always mesh if the dairy industry is involved. But one Care2 petition is looking to change that.
The Facebook Post
As reported in KFOR, Allison worked as a second-grade teacher (although another source says he was a part-time tutor with a one-year contract). He was a committed teacher who would work with students struggling in language arts and math. His students, their parents and his supervisors never had any problems with Allison’s work.
But a local farmer did have a problem. It had nothing to do with what Allison did in the classroom — it had everything to do with what Allison did outside the classroom. Defying the status quo, Allison is a vegan, an animal advocate, and apparently a threat to the local dairy industry.
The turning point was when Allison went on his private Facebook page to share his thoughts. He snapped a shot of crates used on a dairy farm to house baby calves. Like any of us on our social media accounts, he also wrote his thoughts:
“As someone who grew up feeling parental love and support, and now as a parent who gives love and support, I reject the claim that separating babies from loving mothers to raise them isolated in boxes can ever be considered humane.”
Needless to say, the local dairy industry didn’t love Allison’s compassionate point of view or that he expressed it (even though there’s a little legal thing called freedom of speech). The dairy farm from the picture decided to do something to neutralize the threat.
“I Might Want to Look into Doing Something Other Than Teaching”
When it came time to renew his contract, Allison found out exactly what the dairy farm had decided to do; they had complained about Allison’s post to his employer.
Here’s how things went down according to Allison when he met with his superintendent:
“I was informed we live in a large agricultural area, which is true, and that a lot of our money for the schools comes through residents of the community. And that I needed to be very careful of what I put on [Facebook] because I might offend the community and the economic interests of the community… I was also told that I could have any personal beliefs I want to have, but if I want to be a strong vegan advocate, I might want to look into doing something other than teaching.”
And just like that Allison’s contract wasn’t renewed. Now he’s fighting to get his job and his pay back.
Whatever Happened to Freedom of Speech?
With pressure from animal advocate organizations, like PETA, Allison’s not fighting this alone. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio sent a letter to Allison’s school, and the union is threatening litigation reports Farm and Dairy.
While the union organization claims that Allison’s First Amendment rights was violated, the school disagrees. In Farm and Dairy, Judy Robinson, a school superintendent maintains that the reason for his non-renewal “was not his personal views,” including his vegan lifestyle and his advocacy work; Allison’s a member of Cleveland Animal Rights Alliance and Akron Peace Project. Therefore, his First Amendment right wasn’t violated.
We’re still watching if and how this first amendment issue will play out. Allison did delete his original Facebook post. A Facebook page, I Stand With Keith, was created in his support.
Allison told Farm and Dairy that he tried to reach out to the farmer of the farm where the picture was taken, but the farmer didn’t get in touch. He also identifies himself as “a peace activist” who is “trying to spread love and compassion.”
While he wants an apology and his job back, Allison insists that it’s also about getting the school to ” clarify its position, so this doesn’t ever happen, not only to me, but to other teachers in the future,” in KFOR.
We know that Keith Allison could’ve said worse things about the dairy industry, like how they sneak aspartame in milk and kill calves for the veal industry, or he could have just shown some heartbreaking cruelty footage.
But all he did was spread a message about compassion. The real reason that Allison was informed that he should look into something that’s not teaching if he wants to be a vegan advocate is simple: real education threatens industries built on cruelty and exploitation. If you support Keith Allison, then please sign and share this petition.
Photo Credit: I Stand With Keith Facebook Page