January 2020 Church & State Magazine | People & Events

A substitute teacher at a public school in Cedar Hills, Utah, was fired after she criticized a fifth-grade student who said he was thankful for his same-sex adoptive parents.

The incident occurred a few days before Thanksgiving when the substitute, who was not identified in media accounts, asked students to say what they’re thankful for. The 11-year-old boy, who has been referred to as D.M. to respect his privacy, said he was looking forward to being adopted by his two dads.

Other students in the classroom reported that the substitute said, “Why on earth would you be happy about that?” She then reportedly lectured on the topic for 10 minutes, telling the 30 students in the classroom that “homosexuality is wrong” and “two men living together is a sin.” The Salt Lake Tribune reported that she looked at the boy and said, “That’s nothing to be thankful for.”

The Tribune reported that three girls in the classroom told the sub to cease making such comments. When she refused, the three left the room and went to the principal’s office, where they reported what was going on.

The substitute, who works for the firm Kelly Services, was escorted from the school. Reportedly, she continued to spew anti-LGBTQ views even as she was being taken out of the building.

Louis van Amstel, one of the boy’s fathers, posted about the incident on social media and gave an interview about the matter to the Tribune.       

“It’s absolutely ridiculous and horrible what she did,” van Amstel said. “We were livid. It’s 2019 and this is a public school.”

Van Amstel noted that he and his husband, Josh van Amstel, moved to adopt the boy after the child experienced two failed adoptions.

Louis van Amstel is a professional dancer with a large social media following. After he wrote about the incident, the story received a good deal of attention. In light of that, Kelly Services moved to terminate the substitute and issued a statement saying it “made the decision to end the employee’s relationship with Kelly Services.”

The statement went on to say, “We are concerned about any reports of inappropriate conduct and take these matters very seriously.”

It was unclear how long the substitute had been working at the school, or whether she had been placed at other schools in the area.