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|Ga. teacher plans protest to support Texas student's planned Gay/Straight Alliance|
|Written by Ryan Watkins|
|Wednesday, 02 March 2011 11:59|
A Georgia drama teacher who was fired last year for showing a scene from the gay-themed film “The Reckoning” to his class is planning a protest in support of a Texas high school student who has tried unsuccessfully to establish a gay/straight alliance at her school.
Nikki Peet of Corpus Christi first approached Flour Bluff school officials in November with the idea of establishing a GSA, only to be told by officials, including school principal James Crenshaw, that such a club would not be approved, according to Corpus Christi NBC affiliate KRIS.
The school has since canceled all extra-curricular activities rather than allow the GSA to form. Calls to the school's principal and public information coordinator went unreturned.
Dixon, who is no stranger to controversy, was fired from Georgia’s Haralson County High School in November for “showing material to his class that the school’s administration didn’t approve in advance.” Dixon argues, however, that he was investigated and later fired because of the film's gay subject matter.
Dixon said at the time he showed a clip from “The Reckoning” to his class, but after a scene with obscene language, he quickly turned off the video and apologized to his class. A student's mother later complained to the principal and Dixon was fired after an investigation. He is appealing the ruling that led to his termination to the Georgia State School Board. The film is loosely based on the story of Matthew Shepard, according to IMDB.
Dixon says he recently began receiving unemployment benefits, despite an appeal from the school district, after the labor board ruled the grounds for his dismissal were not enough to deny him from receiving benefits. The district is appealing that ruling, as well.
A protest in support of Peet, organized by Dixon, is scheduled for Saturday, March 5, at Buchanan Square in Haralson, Ga., from noon to 1 p.m.
Haralson is roughly an hour south of Atlanta.
Participants are encouraged to bring signs with positive messages. According to the event's Facebook page, the protest will be a silent walk. “No slogans, no shouting, no trouble.”
Legal and advocacy groups have stepped in to offer assistance to Peet and other GSA supporters, including the Texas Civil Rights Project and the Gay-Straight Alliance at Texas A&M Corpus Christi.
Supporters argue that the school administration is in violation of the Equal Access Act, a 1984 law that compels federally-funded secondary schools to allow students equal access to extracurricular clubs. The law was originally supported by religious groups but has recently been used by students and legal organizations pushing for GSAs.
The Texas GSA Alliance has also jumped into the fray: “Supportive faculty and students alike are being bullied into submission by a hostile administration that would rather punish all students than allow for a safe space for LGBTQ students on their campus. Those who are supposed to be ensuring an inclusive and welcoming environment for all students are instead the ones modeling discrimination.”
Peet told KRIS in a video interview that she fears a backlash from other students over the school's decision to cancel all extracurricular clubs. "It's going to bring a lot of hate and animosity to the school because now people are going to be like, the people who are for the GSA, they're the ones who stopped the other clubs. So we're kind of being blamed for it," she said.
A petition created on Change.org calling on the school to allow a GSA has more than 3,800 signatures as of this afternoon.
Top photo: David Dixon, a Georgia drama teacher fired last year for showing a scene from the gay film "The Reckoning" is organizing a protest in support of Texas high school student Nikki Peet who's trying to create a gay/straight alliance at her Corpus Christi school. (via Facebook)
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