Note: Since I wrote this diary, reports have surfaced that Viki Knox indeed brought her views into the classroom on several occasions, likely violating the district policies and state law in the process. Worse, she violated a student’s First Amendment rights by kicking the student out of class for wearing a rainbow bracelet.
Viki Knox’s illegal conduct in the classroom raises substantial doubts about her fitness as a teacher. She ought to be fired. At the very least, she should be suspended for a prolonged period of time and must not set foot in another classroom until she understands that she needs to set her personal views aside and follow the laws of New Jersey, the policies of her school district, and the instructions of her superiors.
October, as many Blue Jersey readers know, is LGBT history month. To commemorate the occassion, Union Township High School set up a photo display featuring several famous gay and lesbian celebrities and historical figures.
Yet, this evening, Garden State Equality has organized dozens to protest a meeting of the Union Public School District Board of Education. GSE is not satisfied with school’s affirming message to gay and lesbian students. It wants the district to fire a schoolteacher who responded to the display with homophobic Facebook posts of the sort that one would expect from, say, the Westboro Baptist Church.
Make no mistake, Union Township High School special education teacher Viki Knox’s comments were reprehensible; Ms. Knox calls homosexuality a “perverted spirit” and compares it to cancer and alcoholism. But there are at least two problems with Garden State Equality’s impulsive response to these posts. First, in its hasty reaction to the teacher’s posts, the organization stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the competing values at stake. Second, GSE is doing a disservice to gay and lesbian students at Union Townshsip High School and across the state by passing up more effective responses to this controversy.
The First Amendment gives Viki Knox the right to express her opinions, asinine and offensive as they may be. As I will show below the fold, whether the school district may fire or otherwise discipline her is a close question that will probably turn on facts to be uncovered by investigation.