Gay Fourteen-Year-Old Student Defends Suspended Teacher (VIDEO)

File this under truly inspirational: Jay McDowell, a teacher in Howell, Michigan, was temporarily suspended without pay earlier this month for telling two students to get out of his classroom; one of the students was wearing a Confederate flag and the other was making anti-gay comments.  During a school board meeting, 14-year-old Graham Taylor came to McDowell’s defense, saying that McDowell “did an amazing thing.  Whenever I have teachers who stand up for me like that,” he continued, “they change in my eyes.”

The video is below – it’s pretty incredible.  I’ve also included the transcript (thanks to the awesome Laura Smith-Gary for her help!).


Text on screen: “Residents and non-residents address Howell School Board regarding the disciplinary action to HHS teacher Jay McDowell”

Graham Taylor in voiceover: “Um, my father is Kirk Taylor, he’s a teacher at Hartland, and he tells me about things that go on in this area, and it seems like a nice community.”

Video: Young teen boy speaking confidently into a microphone at a crowded school board meeting. On-screen text identifies him as “Graham Taylor, Ann Arbor student.”

Taylor: “I myself am gay, and I’m a young person. And that can cause lots of trouble. And when you hear of things like Dr. King’s speech, that one day he wanted his grandchildren, his posterity, to not be judged on the color of their skin but the content of their character, I hope that one day we too can be judged on the content of our character and not who we love.

“Howell is the headquarters for the Ku Klux Klan. Does that sound great on your racism record, that they chose this city to come into? And you probably want to get rid of that! So how would you like more headlines of ‘Howell denies gays’ and ‘Howell doesn’t protect them’? This teacher, whom I fully support, finally stood up and said something.

“I have been in rooms, in classrooms, where children have said the worst kinds of things. The kinds of things that helped drive me to a suicide attempt when I was only nine years old. These are the things that hurt a lot. There’s a silent Holocaust out there, in which an estimated 6 million gay people every year kill themselves. Is this really the environment we want for our school? Do we really want this on our record?

“Now, I’m saying that the best thing you can do right now is just give him this pay for that day and just reverse the disciplinary actions. He did an amazing thing. He did something that’s inspired a lot of people. And whenever, ever, I have a teacher stand up for me like that, they change in my eyes. I support Jay McDowell, and I hope –”

Photo from Flickr.


Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman7 years ago

Reinstatement here! thanx

Allan Y.
.7 years ago

No matter what social,political, social, racial, irrational, immoral, is thrown in front of you, you're a teacher, and you have to deal with it in a way that in you're heart of hearts is the correct way.
For those of you who never taught, READ,LISTEN, to what is going on in today's classrooms. Some will be shocked, some, relieved, others, well, if you don't care you're a part of the problem (along with the shocked).

Neil H.
Neil Hunt7 years ago

I NEVER had a teacher stand up for me when I was in school! This Man deserves respect and admiration!!! The closeted Lesbian principal wouldn't even help me in Temecula CA! In the 1980's She was mean to gay people!!!!

Christine H.
Christine Heynen7 years ago

Reinstate the teacher, for sure!!!!! He did something that I never heard any of my teachers do when I was in school and he stood up for Gay people. School boards are always preaching, "anti-bullying" policies, but when you get right down to it, the admins and many teachers don't want to do sweet
f(&@ all about it. Kudos to Mr. McDowell for taking a stand against the ignorant students in his classroom. If all teachers had the backbone he has, the world would be a much better place!!!

Elise Lanciault-Breton
Elise L7 years ago

This teacher did something amazing because there should be not tolerance to hate speech message on shirts and all.

I mean, if I was a teacher, I would either implant a costume for everyone (like boarding schools), that way the kid who doesn't have enough money to by popular brands won't be bullied at school about being poor.

Also: With costume for everyone, no one can have an aggressive message on it's clothes.

If a costume cannot be implanted, I would refuse access to class to kids who are racits, homophobic, making jokes about handicapped people and all.

I mean, there should be no tolerance to people being just mean and provocating others

ewoud k.
ewoud k7 years ago

Ther's no better way to make (other) teachers keep quiet and tolerate the most uncivilised things going on in class, than to punish one who stands up.

MAYBE we could and should discuss the local circumstances, and MAYBE we could find some excuses for the behaviour of the two who were send out, and MAYBE McDowell could have reacted in another way, BUT that doesn't mean that what he actually did was wrong. It would just mean that he could hav done well in a different way.

You can't punish someone for doing well!

Joyce N.
Joyce N7 years ago

Yes, yes, yes, the teacher did the right thing. And so did Graham by standing up for him.

Lisa H.
Lisa H7 years ago

Insane! This is a Teacher, maintaining control of his learning environment! He should be applauded for preventing expressions of hate and bigotry in a public school! This school board should be suspended.

Kay L.
KayL NOFORWARDS7 years ago

Two courageous people: a teacher who stands up against disruptive, hate-mongering behavior at the risk of his job, and a gay student who stands up publicly for his teacher at the risk of being on the receiving end of more hate himself.

Kristi o.
Kristi O7 years ago

I cannot believe that the teacher was suspended for doing something that is within his job description- sending out disruptive prejudiced students. I hope he gets a good lawyer and sues the &*^% out of that school district! The parents are reinforcing these beliefs at home and then the teacher gets in trouble for trying to correct their prenting mistakes? Where the he!! is the justice here?