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Michigan High School Teacher Under Fire For Refusing To Let Student Write About Her Gay Moms For 'Take A Stand' Assignment

MLive.com / YouTube Screenshot

An unnamed Michigan High School teacher is coming under fire for tasking students to passionately take a stand for or against an issue in their world.

But then the teacher refused to actually let them do it.


Students and other educators alike agree that the teacher's stance is the complete antithesis of the assignment.

The assignment sheet for the "Take A Stand" speech starts out:

"Both John Proctor and Arthur Miller risked their lives when they took a stand against abusive authorities. For both men, the risk paid off."

It then goes on to briefly explain how and why these men taking a stand changed things for them and their communities. The assignment asserts that every generation and every time and place has issues that people can, and should, stand up for in order to make the world a better place.

It then tasks students to find an issue that resonated with them personally, take a stand either for or against it, and give a speech.

Destiny McDermott knew exactly what she wanted to take a stand for—same sex marriage.

Her mother and step-mother fought hard for their marriage and faced abusive authority figures in the process. The issue was about as close to Destiny as an issue could be.

She felt passionate about it and ready to take a stand.

The teacher said no because she might offend someone in the class. Destiny asked if she could poll the class to see if discussing same sex marriage was offensive to anyone.

Again, the teacher said no, but this time for more personal reasons.

It wasn't necessarily that the teacher said no that Destiny found offensive. It was how the teacher said no.

The teacher told Destiny in front of the rest of the class:

"I don't want to hear about it, I don't want to read about it, and I'm the one who has to grade it."

Destiny would later find out she wasn't the only one to have her topic denied because someone else might not like it; as if the things John Proctor and Arthur Miller had to say were universally loved and celebrated. At least one other student in her class had their chosen topic—animal cruelty—denied.

The teacher essentially said "Take a stand—but not like that. Take a stand for something everyone already loves or against something that everyone already hates."

Or more accurately, only take a stand on something the teacher wants to hear about and read about.

Destiny ended up writing to administrators who, rather than deal with the teacher, just switched Destiny into a new class. As far as her and her family are concerned, this doesn't actually address the issue.

Ironically, by refusing to let Destiny write about taking a stand on an issue, the teacher forced Destiny and her family to actually take a stand in a bigger way.

After talking to administration didn't get anywhere, Destiny and her family spoke out to a broader audience:

www.youtube.com

Destiny and her family aren't the only ones who feel that the teacher was in the wrong. Multiple students wrote letters in support of Destiny and the assignment the teen wanted to do.

The teacher remains unnamed and undisciplined, but Montrose Community Schools Superintendent Linden Moore did tell media outlets that the teacher needed to be much more clear about assignment expectations in the future. He told MLive.com that he felt the main issue was that the teacher was thinking smaller and the kids were thinking bigger.

We would like to remind you that these are Junior and Senior high school students, not elementary school kids.

It seems to Destiny, her family and many of her classmates that what the teacher really wanted was for them to take a stand on a non-issue just to get the assignment done.

The book series Taking A Stand offers insights into groups that stood up for their rights, sometimes succeeding and sometimes having their rights and lives disregarded by society. The books are suitable for middle and high school students.

The book Parkland Students Challenge the National Rifle Association (Taking a Stand) is available here.

The book The Standing Rock Sioux Challenge the Dakota Access Pipeline (Taking a Stand) is available here.