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A Blog by Gary Wright II

Is Grissom High JROTC instructor a bully? I think so!

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Here is an article about the Grissom High JROTC instructor and his conduct:

Huntsville gay rights group accuses Grissom High JROTC instructor of bullying 15-year-old

Published: Thursday, August 30, 2012, 5:51 PM and Updated: Thursday, August 30, 2012, 5:51 PM

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- A Grissom High School student's family and Huntsville area advocates for gay and lesbian teens are seeking accountability from the school system following an April incident in which a JROTC instructor told students that homosexuality is a sin.

The instructor is accused of bullying the 15-year-old girl and a fellow student by talking about his Biblical views on homosexuality in the classroom -- after both girls asked him to stop. James Robinson, executive director of GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services, said the girl and her mother contacted him for help shortly after the April 12 incident.

Mia Gonzales, the girl's mother, said her concern was the students in the classroom that day.

"My first thought was, 'What if there was a gay student in that class that looked up to that instructor?'" Gonzales said. "I'm not arguing with what people believe. But what if this one student would have committed suicide? That was a concern for me."

Since the incident, Robinson said, the instructor has apologized to the students but the district has failed to follow JROTC regulations. Those regulations require schools to adhere to a policy of nondiscrimination and, when violations of those rules are substantiated, they must be reported to the U.S. Army Cadet Command.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Madison, Wis., group that promotes the separation between church and state, has taken up the student's cause. The group notified the head of the Cadet Command in a May 31 letter similar to one sent to Superintendent Casey Wardynski.

"I have told them from the beginning that this is not going to be swept under the rug," Robinson said.

Keith Ward, a spokesman for Huntsville City Schools, said Thursday that the district did not have anything to release about the incident.

Robinson and the girl's family want the district to provide proof that the mandatory report to the Army JROTC has been filed, a written commitment by Wardynski to meet with the student, her mother and their advocates, and a written commitment to district-wide sensitivity training for staff. Those requests were sent to the district on Aug. 28.

Robinson said the incident began with a simple conversation between two freshman girls. "The students were having a conversation, like students have, and one of them said she someday wanted to live in San Francisco," Robinson said.

It was at that point that the instructor began telling the girls "about the Bible, Adam and Eve, and how homosexuality is a 'sin,'" according to the letter sent to Wardynski by the foundation. San Francisco has a long history of being one of the most liberal, gay-friendly cities in the country.

The complaint states that the instructor continued to "preach" even after one student left the room in tears.

"These allegations are especially disturbing because a public school teacher and member of the U.S. military bullied schoolchildren," wrote Andrew L. Seidel, a staff attorney for the foundation.

J.R. Brooks, an attorney for the district, wrote in an Aug. 20 response that allegations of bullying were "over the top."

"While you and I may agree that preaching at school that homosexuality is sinful and against the Bible is not appropriate, this is not bullying," Brooks wrote.

Brooks wrote that the instructor realized his error and "even apologized" to the students.

"Absent further conduct of a similar nature, this matter is closed," Brooks wrote.


I'm outraged by the actions of the Grissom High JROTC instructor and I'm calling for him to be replaced immediately. It is totally unacceptable for a teacher to bully a child. I'm a veteran and it enrages me further that a JROTC instructor would behave like that in a classroom.

When the students asked him to stop, he still continued on and that makes his apology meaningless. Huntsville City Schools has a responsibility to file a report with the military and (as Robinson said) there is no way this incident is going to be "swept under the rug."

The attorney for the school system says that the allegations of bullying were "over the top" and says the matter is closed. When an instructor makes a child leave the classroom in tears, and then refuses to stop even after other students asked him to - this IS bullying!

If the superintendent and principal do not take the appropriate actions, then I will demand their resignations too. We have lost too many kids to suicide and I have little patience for bullies and those who try to cover up their behaviour. The Gonzales family and the gay rights groups have my complete support.

Here is the contact information:
Dr. Casey Wardynski, Huntsville City Schools Superintendent (256) 428-6800
B. T. Drake - Grissom High School Principal (256) 428-8000
U.S. Army Cadet Command, Major General Jefforey Smith, Commanding General

Best regards,

-- Gary Wright II

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