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Teacher May Be Disciplined But Not Fired Over Disparaging Transgender Student

| January 9, 2017

Gender-neutral, ideally. (xMizLitx/Flickr)

Gender-neutral, ideally. (xMizLitx/Flickr)

A state administrative law judge Monday said a Southwest Florida high-school teacher should be disciplined — but not fired — for making negative comments about transgender people.

The Lee County School Board last year moved to terminate Angel Villanueva, a Junior ROTC instructor at East Lee County High School. But Administrative Law Judge Linzie Bogan, in a 12-page recommended order Monday, said “just cause” existed for discipline, but not firing.

In part, the case focused on comments Villanueva made to a student, identified only by the initials M.G., who came out as transgender in March 2016, the recommended order said. The student said Villanueva reacted by saying, “Oh, no, you can’t do that” and by telling M.G. that he will always be a female.

“Respondent (Villanueva) admits that he wanted to persuade M.G. not to come out as transgender,” Bogan wrote in the recommended order. “Respondent also admits that he made comments in the presence of students regarding the sexual preference of individuals, and further that he told students in his class that individuals who do not agree with him are wrong, will regret their lifestyle, and will suffer consequences later on in life. Respondent testified that his concern for M.G. stems from his personal beliefs as a devout Christian, and that if M.G. had informed Respondent that he was bothered by his comments, then he would not have been as aggressive in stating his opinions to M.G. Respondent acknowledges that he overstepped his boundaries and ‘should have stayed in his own lane.’ During the final hearing, Respondent expressed genuine feelings of concern about M.G.’s well-being.”

Under administrative law, the recommended order will go back to the School Board for final action. Bogan did not recommend specific disciplinary steps. Villanueva has worked for the school district since 2002.

The recommended order said an investigation began after a parent notified the school district about a video posted on Instagram that showed Villanueva making comments in class about Caitlyn Jenner, the former Olympic gold medalist who came out as transgender. The student M.G. posted the video on Instagram and was later interviewed as part of the investigation.

The school district filed a petition July 29 to terminate Villanueva, who is covered by a collective-bargaining agreement, according to documents filed in the case. Villanueva requested an administrative hearing Aug. 22.

“Respondent’s conduct unreasonably denied students access to diverse points of view, exposed students to unnecessary embarrassment and disparagement, and was unbecoming of a school district employee,” the July petition for termination said.

But Bogan said the discipline should stop short of termination.

“Respondent, during the final hearing, expressed genuine feelings of concern about M.G.’s overall well-being,” Bogan wrote. “The undersigned (judge) is persuaded that Respondent’s concern for M.G. comes not from a place of hate, but from a place of compassion. Accordingly, petitioner (the School Board) has not established that Respondent’s conduct was egregious enough to warrant termination, but has established that just cause exists to impose a lesser form of discipline against Respondent. ”

–Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida

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14 Responses for “Teacher May Be Disciplined But Not Fired Over Disparaging Transgender Student”

  1. Pete says:

    I stand in solidarity with the student in this article as I can identify with them. Not only should the teacher be fired, he should also be arrested for not espousing the correct beliefs (mandatory for anyone involved with education).

    As a business owner who is physically a male, Caucasian, and middle-aged, I am tired of being discriminated against ! In my mind I am really female, a minority (both black and Hispanic depending on the day) and elderly. Even though in my mind I am a female and a minority, the US government is denying me federal assistance (both in grants and preferred loans – also known as free money). When will this discrimination stop???

    Could people please stand-up against the tyranny and insist the federal government treat me as the minority that I believe I am? Insist that I qualify for these programs in order that we can achieve equality for everyone!

    And I don’t want to hear from people who disagree with this! They are just racist and something-phobic people – there views are not worthy of consideration.

  2. Wishful thinking says:

    How sad and pitiful that there are those of us who do not love ourselves for how we were born nor how God created us. One of these days I fear that those of us who are happy with our birth sex and who are attracted to the opposite sex will be the New abnormal instead of normal.
    Frankly I find shoving the views and desires of those unhappy with their birth genes etc. annoying and boring

  3. Dave says:

    Agreed this is disgusting. What makes the teacher think his personal beliefs are welcome in a safe school environment. Please keep these radical ideals out of our learning facilities.

  4. John says:

    Freedom means I do not have to accept the decisions of others. It means I can stand against others beliefs, and they mine. The 1st Amendment doesn’t end when one becomes a teacher. This teacher didn’t physically assault the confused student. Didn’t throw anything at her, etc. This judge did the right thing.

  5. truth says:

    The day one persons civil right get trampled is the day there is justification to trample anyones. Should have been fired.

  6. PCer says:

    We have a clear separation of church and state. As a public school teacher, he cannot spew his Christian values/opinions on his students and expect for them to step in line. It is his job to teach his class, not convince others of his opinions (however backwards they may be.). I agree with the judge that he should not be fired, but should definitely be disciplined. Hopefully, the disciplinary action will lead to his voluntarily resigning from his job.

    It is my wishful thinking that all people will accept others for who they choose to be and not as a label. One day, there will be no labels and the world will be a much better place.

  7. Al says:

    That’s sarcasm, right?? Ha. That was pretty funny. Actually made me chuckle.

  8. Kathryn says:

    I’m glad that this issue is “annoying and boring” for some people. It’s not like transgender teens are at alarmingly high rates of suicide and are adversely targeted for hate crimes on levels exceeding that of their LGB peers, but yeah, it sucks that we have to hear about other people’s problems, right? These comments are disgusting.

  9. Sherry says:

    So. . . think this through. . . a crime against another person only exists if the perpetrator “physically” injures another? Really? There are no civil rights beyond the body? There are no “mental” abuses or tortures? Since when is a teacher’s rights more important than the rights of the students they are hired to educate? What if the teacher was a “Satan” worshiper? Should they then be allowed to voice their beliefs in the classroom or to “teach” the gospel of the devil?

    First amendment rights stop at the water’s edge when one’s “professional” promise and obligation is to remain neutral and accepting of ALL students, and to teach the approved curriculum, which should not be colored by teacher’s “personal” beliefs!!!! If the teacher continues to do so, they should be fired!!

  10. Ws says:

    Fire the teacher for what? The student needs mental health care and apparently the teacher is the only one to figure that out. I am a 57 year old woman but in my head I feel 67 so can I start referring to myself as a senior citizen and retire now and collect social security benefits. Just because somebody feels a certain way doesn’t mean it’s true. The teacher is right in that the student will regret this years later. I have known a transgender personally and transitioning has made this person worse off instead of better. Her life is not better at all so stop saying that accepting it makes them happier. They are confused and nobody tells them the truth. Very sad!

  11. Tony says:

    This teacher should be commended for making an attempt to help this confused student. It’s sad and sick at the same time that some people wish for deviant behavior to be condoned. God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. Remember, men have outties and women have innies, even the animals know what this means.

  12. Michael C says:

    Jesus said love one another as I had loved you. Stop the hate people

  13. Anonymous says:

    Totally amazing how the open minded tolerant of all left want this teacher gone for simply stating a onion??
    Remember the left is all for free speech as long as it is speech they like.

  14. Ms August says:

    Has zero business being with formative children at all. New line of work, maybe with adults.

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