Vegan Teacher Fired For Facebook Post Criticizing Local Dairy

An Ohio teacher made a Facebook post about animal rights that apparently angered someone in the largely agricultural community where he teaches, and now the outspoken vegan has been fired from his job, WGHP (Greensboro) is reporting.

Keith Ellison was a second-grade teacher who helped kids who struggled with math and language catch up to their peers. In his personal life, he's a vegan and animal rights activist who often posts his beliefs -- sometimes accompanied by photos -- on Facebook.

In August of this year, the vegan teacher visited a local dairy farm, where the farmer raises cows in a practice that he (Ellison) considers inhumane: separating baby calves from their mothers and putting them in crates. He then posted his thoughts on Facebook, according to KFOR (Oklahoma City).

"As someone who grew up feeling parental love and support, and now as a parent who gives love and support, I reject the claim that separating babies from loving mothers to raise them isolated in boxes can ever be considered humane."

Living and working in a largely agricultural area, where many of the kids at the school where he taught have parents who work in the dairy industry, Mr. Ellison's vegan activism was not met with open arms, to say the least. The owner of the farm where Mr. Ellison took the picture called the superintendent to complain, apparently equating his Facebook post with a threat, according to WGN (Chicago).

"The fact that their family's farm was in the picture, I guess, is where their complaint was coming from and from what I was told, they were fearful, afraid that someone might come and break their calf crates or free their cows and their children were not safe to be out in their yards."

Citing the fact that much of the tax money which supports his employer comes from dairy farms, Mr. Ellison's contract was not renewed with the school district where he worked.

"During the meeting with my superintendent, I was informed we live in a large agricultural area, which is true, and that a lot of our money for the schools comes through residents of the community and that I needed to be very careful of what I put on [Facebook] because I might offend the community and the economic interests of the community. I was also told that I could have any personal beliefs I want to have, but if I want to be a strong Vegan advocate, I might want to look into doing something other than teaching."

Mr. Ellison is not the first teacher to be fired over his or her personal posts on social media. Last month, according to this Inquisitr report, a teacher in Texas was fired for an expletive-filled, racist tweet referencing the Ferguson protests.

The vegan teacher has filed a lawsuit, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), to get his job back and back pay, citing his First Amendment rights to free speech.

[Image courtesy of: WGHP]