Kentucky teacher of the year resigns, citing discrimination

Willie Carver Jr., Kentucky’s 2022 Teacher of the Year – Photo credit: Willie Carver Jr.

The man named Kentucky’s 2022 teacher of the year has quit his teaching job, citing anti-gay discrimination as one of the reasons for his defection.

Willie Carver, Jr., an English teacher at Montgomery County High School in Mount Sterling, Kentucky, for 17 years, announced in an interview with the Chief of the Lexington-Herald that he would accept a job at the Office of Student Support Services at the University of Kentucky.

Carver attributed his decision to leave to his frustration “at the discrimination, heartache and being part of systems that cause harm” during his years as a public school teacher. He said he spent years watching directors try to stifle LGBTQ identities, in what he described as “death by a thousand cuts,” according to NBC News.

Although Carver was able to teach without having to conceal his identity, he said his employer ordered teachers to remove books written by LGBTQ authors from the school‘s curriculum, defended students accused of tearing down Rainbow posters Pride of the school walls and shut down a student. survey that sought student feedback on the school climate for LGBTQ inclusion.

But Carver says “the straw that broke the camel’s back” was when administrators failed to address repeated harassment against him and LGBTQ students at Montgomery County High School.

In March, a group of community members began showing up at school board meetings, repeatedly accusing Carver and LGBTQ students of being “healers,” on the grounds that by simply being visible and unashamed of their identities, Carver and his students were seducing or “brainwashing” other students into beginning to identify as LGBTQ or to accept homosexuality as normal.

The use of the term groomer, which refers to the act of establishing relationships or connections with young people in order to manipulate, exploit or abuse them, has recently been embraced by social conservatives and weaponized against LGBTQ people following a national backlash. against the so-called “awakening” or LGBTQ identity in general.

The term has been around for years, but particularly gained traction after Christina Pushaw, spokeswoman for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, accused opponents of a parental rights bill banning discussion of LGBTQ topics in classrooms – dubbed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill by opponents – of being groomers or condoning grooming by exposing young children to topics or issues they are too young to understand.

Prominent conservative pundits took the phrase and used it to refer to LGBTQ advocates on a number of issues, and it was picked up by socially conservative viewers, who repeated the often baseless accusations of demonizing LGBTQ people. LGBTQ people, especially those who work closely with children.

According to Carver, members of the group verbally attacked him online, with one posting images of him and LGBTQ students on social media, prompting a flood of homophobic comments and slurs. But school officials told Carver they couldn’t respond to all of the allegations online, or whenever the community was upset about something happening at the school. Administrators also failed to speak to or listen to LGBTQ students who were harassed.

“The national rhetoric has ramped up and LGBTQ teachers bear the brunt of a lot of hate that catalyzes the vitriol,” Carver said. “He said. ‘It’s tiring.’

Carver told the Chief Herald that he feels he can have more impact working for the University of Kentucky.

“I hI’ve always wanted to be where I can make the most difference in the lives of the next generation,” he said. “I believe that the UK [the University of Kentucky] that’s where I can do that.

Carver’s resignation comes a month after he testified before the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform about the lack of protections in schools for students and LGBTQ teachers.

“I have I have always been discriminated against as a gay teacher, and I haveI have weathered the storm because my presence saves lives. Forty percent of trans people attempt suicide, almost all before the age of 25. Just one affirmative adult nearly halves suicide attempts,” Carver told the House subcommittee. “Students are now using anti-LGBTQ or racist slurs without consequence. Hate is politically protected now.

He advocated for Congress to pass federal protections for LGBTQ people, saying such laws must be enacted quickly because LGBTQ youth are in crisis.

“Year after year I get suicidal goodbye text messages from [LGBTQ] students at night. We have always struggled to save these students, but now I panic when my phone goes off after 10:00 p.m.,” Carver Jr said.

“We’re not asking for special treatment,” he told the House committee. “We demand basic human decency, dignity, freedom from fear and the same opportunity to thrive as everyone else.”


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