Gay rights activists plan to protest at a New Jersey board of education meeting on Tuesday after a school teacher described homosexuality as a sin on her Facebook account. Though supporters of the teacher, Viki Knox, say her First Amendment rights should be protected, her opponents are calling on the school board to take away her job.
According to the Facebook page for Garden State Equality, an organization dedicated to supporting gay rights, the protest is being organized to tell the school board in Union Township that “it is wrong for a teacher to spew anti-LGBT hatred on Facebook in her official capacity as a teacher.”
“Ms. Knox went out of her way several times in her vicious tirade to identify herself as a teacher and to communicate as a teacher, not as a private citizen,” said Steven Goldstein, the chair and CEO of GSE, in a comment posted on GSE's Facebook page. “And in the role of teacher on Facebook, she communicated her bile to students. That is the line she crossed here – that is why the school should take action.”
The controversy began when Knox, a special education teacher at Union High School, posted an image to her personal Facebook account of a display at the school which promotes the month of October as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month. She said she was “pitching a fit” over the display, and eventually sparked a debate for taking a stance against homosexuality.
In her comments Knox describes homosexuality a “perverted spirit” and a sinful lifestyle, saying, “I know sin and it breeds like cancer!”
A parent saw her comments and contacted local attorney John Paragano, who told the school's administrators he wants Knox fired for her “hateful public comments,” according to NJ.com. Knox's Facebook page was eventually taken down, but Paragano obtained a copy of the debate and submitted it to the school board for further examination.
Chief School Administrator for the Township of Union Public School District, Patrick Martin, said the district is investigating the incident.
While many are quick to label Knox's position on homosexuality as hateful, she claimed she doesn't hate anyone.
“I love my family members and friends that practice alternate lifestyles but I do not condone or support their lifestyle,” she wrote, according to a copy of the Facebook debate posted on GSE's website.
“I do not deny them access to me or my home. Christ draws us all through a love so vast and encompassing that our human minds continue to fail to comprehend but it was still LOVE! I have no idea how the ADULTS saw my pic, read something I wrote and concluded I was hating and bashing.”
Kim Colby, senior legal counsel for the Christian Legal Society, told The Christian Post via email on Monday that Knox has a right to comment on the issue without being punished.
“Unfortunately some groups have decided that their political agenda is more important than the First Amendment,” Colby said. “The First Amendment must protect everyone’s right to express personal beliefs on controversial topics, or we all lose freedom of speech.”
Knox could not be reached for further comment concerning this issue.