California teacher Michael Stack wrote a letter to Expressions, the student newspaper at his high school, and soon found himself out of a job. Stack quoted a Bible verse that appears to imply gay people “deserved to die.”
The San Luis Obispo High School special education teacher reportedly wrote the letter to the editor of the student newspaper in response to articles published about gay relationships in a prior issue. In the 659-word letter, Michael Stark quotes Romans 1:16-32.
The Bible verse also describes homosexual acts as being “shameful.” Backlash both locally and online immediately followed the publication of the letter in the high school student newspaper.
“I love the staff and students at SLOHS. My students know that. But I love God more, so in obedience to Him, I am writing this letter,” the California teacher said in the letter published in Expressions. “I have faith that the entire Bible is without error. The Bible tells us that we are all accountable for our actions, and that teachers are especially accountable. I’m a teacher, and I don’t want to displease God any more than I already have with my sinful life.”
Both students and parents lambasted not only Michael Stark but San Luis Obispo High School and district officials for allowing the letter they deemed “anti-gay” and threatening to be published in the student newspaper.
https://t.co/VxsX7Yi1Fa San Luis Obispo High School special education teacher Michael Stack sparked outrage with a letter to the student n…
— Wiredwezl (@wiredwezl) May 12, 2017
San Luis Obispo High School Principal Leslie O’Connor and district superintendent Eric Prater are standing their ground on the issue. The two California school officials maintain the California teacher has a First Amendment right to share his views even if those beliefs do not reflect the mindset of the school.
“A bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea offensive or disagreeable,” a joint statement from the San Luis Obispo High School officials said.
SLOH officials said it is the policy of the school to publish any letter to the student newspaper, regardless of the opinion it expresses, as long as it does not contain profane language. Michael Stark’s letter quoted extensive text from the New Testament of the Bible pertaining to homosexuality, claiming the wickedness and deception that happened in the past are occurring again right now.
“They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the creator Himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.”
Both the California school superintendent and the SLOH principal also stated the letter to the student newspaper by Michael Stark did not constitute a “true threat” against the LGBT community. The school officials classified the teacher sharing his beliefs as protected free speech and not threatening speech, which must include language indicating a “reasonably foreseeable” desire to engage in a “serious expression of intent to harm or assault.”
— KRON4 News (@kron4news) May 13, 2017
The letter quoting the Bible appeared in Expressions on May 9. Earlier this month, the SLOH student newspaper published an issue with a large photo of two teenage girls kissing on the front page with a corresponding article about LGBT relationships.
Just two days after his letter was published and the intense backlash and protests began, Michael Stark resigned, according to a report by the Tribune.
“I quoted, verbatim, Romans 1:16-32. Now people are exercising their First Amendment rights by responding to that letter, this is how America is designed to function,” Stark wrote in his two-page resignation letter to the California school district.
Stark went on to say that both his students and God know his heart and his actions. He added that apparently, the San Luis Obispo community wants him out, so he was granting “their desires” and resigning immediately.
Even after Stark resigned, protests continued at the front gate of the school building. One of the LGBT activists held a sign which read, “Bigotry designed as Religious Liberty is still bigotry!”
Amber Ernst, the co-president of the school’s LGBTQ advocacy group, deemed the teacher’s letter to be both “heartbreaking” and “really damaging.”
School officials have since claimed Michael Stark had been hired on solely a probationary basis and was told in February he would not be employed by the district after the end of the school year.
What do you think about the California teacher’s letter quoting a Bible verse about gay people and the reaction by both the school district and the protesters?
[Featured Image by Dream Perfection/Shutterstock]