As a Social Studies teacher, I showed a variety of videos, old film strips, and utilized primary sources as much as possible. Movies on slavery, Margaret Thatcher, WWII, the Holocaust, the sexual revolution, Viet Nam, mental illness, and a variety of cultural videos were shared in my classroom. Like every teacher, I used my best judgment and showed what I thought would be beneficial to the lesson and the students.
Ken Simon was removed from the classroom and placed on administrative leave after he showed the 10-minute video that dealt with homosexuality. He is facing disciplinary action. "Him being suspended over a situation of him actually teaching about our history as a country is absolutely asinine," former student Victoria Long said. The video was made in 1959. It warns students to avoid strangers "because they might be homosexual." Simon said he used the video to show just how much attitudes about homosexuality have changed over the years. – kctv5.com
Apparently all it took was for two students to complain, which led to district administrators removing the veteran teacher from his classroom.
"Showing the video makes sense," student Michael Hollingsworth said. "If anyone gets offended by that, they shouldn't because it was shown in 1959 and it shows how history has changed through the years," he said.
Simon said he was told he could attend the high school graduation ceremonies if he didn't speak to any teachers or students, which he said would be an impossible undertaking. He is accused of violating district policies involving discrimination, harassment and retaliation.
"He said it is a delicate topic," Simon said. "I said, 'We teach about Jews and nobody complained, we teach about the slave trade and nobody's complained.'" – kctv5.com
How did the local news cover this story in Raymore, Missouri?
If you would like to see the video in question, here it is.
Interesting video, huh? To be honest, I know I have seen this before, maybe I even used it in one of my courses I taught. I remember it, but do not recall in what context. The video is not offensive to me taken in context and I feel it would be appropriate in the right setting and as long as the discussion around it was appropriate.
And that raises some questions. What happened in the classroom? Are we missing some information? Did these two students that came forward and complained experience something more in the classroom than just viewing the video?
Another question … I do not think we know Ken Simon's sexuality, but should it matter? If I, as a gay teacher, had shown this video in my classroom, would there have been an issue? Would I have been removed?
More than 3,000 have signed the petition at Change.org to give Mr. Simon his job back. The district stated that Simon is to retire within two weeks after 47 years of teaching. His benefits and retirement will not be affected. Click here to see the petition.
So Instincters, your thoughts? Should this video be allowed in the classroom with appropriate discussion? I'm all for it.