US teacher returns after anti-gay rant “did not violate code of conduct”

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A teacher in Florida who was suspended following vitriolic anti-gay posts on his Facebook profile has been found not to have violated the school board’s code of conduct.

While equality campaigners celebrated after seeing gay marriage legislation enacted in the state of New York, Jerry Buell, a high school teacher in Florida, made it known to hundreds of people on the social network that the “sin” had nearly made him vomit during his dinner.

Buell was sent home from Mount Dora High School after writing: “I’m watching the news, eating dinner, when the story about New York okaying same sex unions came on and I almost threw up.”

Speaking to the Orlando Sentinel after his suspension, he had said: “It wasn’t out of hatred. It was about the way I interpret things.”

He added: “I’ve had kids that I’ve known that have been homosexuals.They know that I don’t hate them. I love them.”

Mr Buell had also written: “If they want to call it a union, go ahead. But don’t insult a man and woman’s marriage by throwing it in the same cesspool as same-sex whatever! God will not be mocked. When did this sin become acceptable???”

The district’s code forbids “behavior that disrupts the orderly processes of the district”.

While Buell sees the decision as a victory for First Amendment rights, Chris Patton, communications officer for Lake County schools, said: “Social media is a minefield.”

On the subject of teachers’ private lives, he added: “Even when they leave the doors of the school, they’re still bound by those code ethics.”

The school board has issued a list of directives for Buell to comply with before his return to teaching, which will not be made public for ten days.

Due to the summer holidays, Buell will only miss three days’ contact with students during his suspension.