Jim Gaylord was a popular social studies teacher at Wilson High School in Tacoma, Washington in 1972. However, after confirming to his principal that he was gay, he was let go. 42 years later, Gaylord got his long-overdue apology from the Tacoma School District, according to The Advocate.
KIRO-TV (Seattle) was on-hand at a benefit last Sunday night for Oasis (an LGBT advocacy group in Tacoma) when Kurt Miller, president of the Tacoma School Board, publicly delivered the apology that was four decades overdue:
The 1972 decision was written within the guidelines at time, but it does not reflect the values and morals of the district now. I offer a sincere apology to Mr. Jim Gaylord. Jim, thank you for continuing to teach us.
Gaylord filed suit against the school district after his firing. He lost his case, according to Newsmax, and after several appeals, the Supreme Court declined to hear his case. Gaylord gave up on teaching and went on to become a librarian.
At the time of his firing, homosexuality was considered immoral at best, and a disease at worst, according to The Advocate. Many believed that there was a (since-debunked) link between homosexuality and sex crimes against children. Court documents from Gaylord’s lawsuit offer a glimpse into those attitudes; John Beer, Gaylord’s assistant principal at the time, said:
I don’t believe a homosexual meets the standards, the professional standards, the community standards, that we would expect of a classroom teacher.
After his legal appeals were exhausted, Gaylord relied on the support of family and friends. He settled into a quiet life, staying in Tacoma because he “didn’t want to be exiled,” Gaylord told Q13 Fox (Seattle).
According to Upworthy, an employee can legally be fired for being gay in 29 states (Washington is no longer one of them). And while the practice is legal, it is not always popular. For example: according to Inquisitr, in Latta, South Carolina, popular police chief Crystal Moore was fired for being gay. Since her firing, the town has come to her defense, holding rallies and demanding that she be re-instated.
As for Jim Gaylord, he considers his belated apology to be the end of the story. He tells Q13 Fox:
It’s a kind of closure. I got over it years ago, but this does complete the process.
Should employers legally be able to fire employees for being gay? Let us know what you think in the comments.
mage source: Newsmax