On Tuesday, school officials at Benson High School in Portland, Oregon removed 11-year veteran teacher Bill Diss from the classroom on and placed him on paid leave, reports The Oregonian.
The reason that Diss is getting dissed? To hear the math teacher tell it, school officials have singled him out because he is a devout Roman Catholic with a reputation for declaring his staunchly pro-life views.
Diss recently attempted to prevent two Planned Parenthood representatives from making a presentation to his class because, he said, they didn’t have suitable identification. They were at the school to play a role in a voluntary sex education course, according to local NBC affiliate KGW.
Apparently, the agents from Planned Parenthood were at Benson High because Planned Parenthood is one of the partners of the district’s Teen Outreach Program, which aims to prevent teen pregnancy as well as illegal drug use and dropping out.
Planned Parenthood’s participation is funded by a federal Department of Health and Human Services grant, notes The Oregonian.
Diss, who told KGW that he is “very much against contraceptive acts,” believes that incident was the final straw in a series of incidents.
“I certainly fight Planned Parenthood, which I certainly have a right to do,” Diss told the station. “And that was all on the outside, until this year when they brought Planned Parenthood in there.”
“It is much more important for the school to have Planned Parenthood at Benson than it is to have a teacher teach computer science and math,” he added.
This incident isn’t Diss’s first suspension-related rodeo, though. He told The Oregonian he has endured two suspensions just this year. The exact causes of those suspensions are not entirely clear, though they seem to be related to Diss’s outspokenness.
One letter Diss received from the Portland Public Schools cites “unprofessional, intimidating and/or harassing behavior.”
In December, Diss was one of the organizers of a large group protesting Planned Parenthood involvement in the Teen Outreach Program at a school board meeting.
“This is a chance to get healed so that filth doesn’t have to be handed to other people,” Diss explained at that time, according to The Oregonian.
District officials have also accused Diss of inappropriately talking about premarital sex, sexual purity, abortion and religion in his math and computer science classes — and in study halls.
“(Students) also quoted you as saying, ‘they would end up on 82nd (Avenue) and that they kill over a million babies every three years,’” read a letter the district (and Benson High’s principal) sent to Diss.
In the Portland area, 82nd Avenue is a hub for prostitution.
Diss told The Oregonian he has talked about Planned Parenthood and his religious beliefs in class. He said he was misquoted concerning 82nd Avenue.
School district officials have advised Diss, he says, that his contract will not be renewed for the school year beginning in 2014.
Students who have previously had Diss as a teacher told KGW that he has spoken about his anti-abortion views at school.
“He doesn’t do it a lot, but students do make fun of him for … being against it and everything,” said junior Ty’sha Harrell.
Harrell and a friend, Pharoah Dawan’fluker, suggested that part of the problem is that students enjoy provoking Diss into digressions about his views.
The Portland Public School District issued a short, boilerplate statement touching on privacy, freedom of speech and professionalism.
Diss says he expects Superintendent Carole Smith to issue a recommendation for his firing soon. In the mean time, he has lawyered up and says he will fight any attempt to fire him. He also says he will file a union grievance.
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