Utah Lawmakers Work To Protect Students From Hateful Teachers

Screenshot via YouTube @CBS This Morning

Some politicians are working so that no Utah student will ever have to face discrimination from a homophobic substitute teacher again.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, a bill has been introduced to the Utah state legislation that would require mandatory ethics and sensitivity training to all substitutes hired by a temp agency before they could teach at schools. The form in which this training is provided, however, would be up to each school district.

“It’s open,” said Sen. Karen Mayne who introduced SB198. “This is just to make sure that the person going into the classroom knows what the code of conduct is.”

Currently, there is little regulation on substitute teaching in the state of Utah. As such, Mayne is hoping to start a change within the education system, but she won’t do it without a fight. SB198 already failed on the state Senate floor last week. That said, Maybe later revived it on Monday after making some amendments. It then passed on a 25-2 vote.

For Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, the bill is redundant. He argues that the bill was created in response to one case from last year, but that substitute has already been fired.

“I just think that this bill is the wrong prescription for a problem that has already been solved,” he said.

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Part of Fillmore’s argument is true. The initial case that inspired Mayne’s bill has already been dealt with. Back in November of last year, a fifth-grade classroom in Deerfield Elementary School at Cedar Hills was rocked by a homophobic teacher. The teacher asked the students what they were thankful for that Thanksgiving season. One 11-year-old boy said that he was thankful for his two dads, who had recently fostered him and were in the process of adopting him. The teacher then responded, “That’s nothing to be thankful for.”

Thankfully, the other students defended the 11-year-old as the teacher went on a 10-minute anti-gay rant. Some called the teacher out for her hate, and others went to report the situation to administration leaders. The teacher was later fired from both the school and her agency.

But that wasn’t the end of the story. It turns out, one of the fathers of this 11-year-old boy is none other than tv personality Louis Van Amstel. Amstel is a professional choreographer who’s worked on tv shows like Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance. After hearing of the incident, Amstel posted a video on social media thanking his son’s classmates for defending him and condemning the substitute teacher.

“I am so proud of [the boy’s] school, not only did they let go of the teacher they said this woman is never going to teach in the school ever again,” Van Amstel added.

The family then later spoke about the moment on CBS This Morning. During this broadcast, the son, Daniel van Amstel, shared that he has no remorse for the teacher. When asked what he’d like to say to her, he said a simple, “I would tell her, ‘You should have made better choices in life.’”

Hopefully, Mayne’s bill will be signed into Utah’s law to ensure moments like Daniel’s won’t happen again.

Sources: Salt Lake Tribune,

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