A gay substitute teacher in Ohio was fired last week after handing out pride bracelets to high school students.
Jay Bowman, who taught at Huntington Local Schools in Chillicothe, Ohio, for 30 years, said he was fired due to “community complaints” about private conversations with students over a wristband he was wearing.
The bracelet is rainbow-colored and represents First Capital Pride — a local non-profit supporting the LGBTQIA+ community. Mr. Bowman said he handed them out to students and answered questions about the group.
“If a kid has questions, if a kid wants honesty, I don’t think I should be forbidden from providing that,” he told WSYX.
Huntington Local School District Superintendent Peter Ruby said the teacher violated policies by speaking about personal beliefs and political and religious topics.
“While we recognize there are diverse points of view on this matter, this policy exists for the purpose of ensuring all students feel comfortable in the classroom,” Mr. Ruby said in a statement Sunday.
Mr. Bowman said in a Facebook post that the school’s response was “completely evasive” when he asked how the issue differentiated from the “blatant religious signage” posted throughout the school.
Mr. Bowman added, “I am at peace. But I will not be quiet.”
“I am a good, student-first teacher. I love all God’s children and the kids at Huntington will always hold a place in my heart. Huntington Schools is home to me. I lived there for more years than anywhere else. I do not ever put students at risk,” Mr. Bowman said. “I work hard at reaching out to every single student I meet. These great kids respond well to me and we have a genuine teacher/student affection for one another.”