By Caiden Cowger – BarbWire guest contributor
BUCKHANNON, WV – A high school in West Virginia is involved in a controversial incident after forcing a Christian student to attend an LGBT club and then punishing him for mildly expressing his opinion. In the past week, a group of homosexual students at Buckhannon-Upshur High School created an LGBT club to transform the school’s environment with an agenda to make it more accepting of homosexuality. Because they were unable to find a teacher who was available to lead their club, they decided to combine their meetings with a “kindness club,” which also has Christian members. Because the “kindness club” was the only club that the overwhelming majority of students in the classroom were affiliated with, they could not leave, or they would be written up for skipping.
One Christian student was displeased with being forced to attend the gay club meeting, and posted a 3 second video on an app called Snapchat with the caption, “Our school has a ‘gay’ club.” It should be noted that the name of this club is the “Gay Straight Alliance.”
The bell rang, and the Christian student left. The teacher then called his next period and stated that she wanted to speak with him in her room. He went to her room and she began accusing him of bullying, being discriminatory, mean, judgmental, and unkind… so unkind that he needed to get transferred out of the kindness club, because of his religious beliefs.
He did not do anything wrong. He just stated that there was a gay club at school, which any LGBT student could have said without facing any repercussions. It was assumed that he was against homosexuality, therefore he was targeted.
We have obtained audio of the conversation between the Christian student and the teacher. Under the West Virginia State Code, audio and video is allowed to be recorded if at least one party consents to the recording. For legal purposes, one of the parties involved consented. (The audio can be heard in the video above.)
Here is a transcript of the conversation:
(Student walks into the classroom)
TEACHER: Hang on one sec, I need to speak with him
(Teacher and Student walk to the hallway)
TEACHER: Take a wild guess why I called you down here.
STUDENT: The gay stuff?
TEACHER: Be more specific.
STUDENT: The video I took?
TEACHER: Yeah. You videoed students in a classroom without their permission and then basically you were putting a negative connotation on the video.
TEACHER: And ironically, you’re in the kindness club.
TEACHER: Would you classify that as bullying?
TEACHER: Would you classify that as bullying? Yes or no?
STUDENT: Sure, maybe. (Sarcasm)
TEACHER: Yes or no? There is no gray area.
STUDENT: Yeah, why not? (Sarcasm)
TEACHER: Kay… those kids came to me and asked me if they could have their club in my room. They asked me that. They didn’t have anybody to support them. I am non-judgmental of people’s choices. I don’t judge people and I don’t bully them. And I said, “yeah.” I said, “The reason this would be a safe space is because the other half of my room is a club, so anyone, any group is going to be receptive in this. It’s going to be a club of kids that are kind, and they felt comfortable because of that. And on day 2 of their club meeting, you gotta upload that. Absolutely unacceptable. First of all, I have a no cell phone, picture or video policy in my room. Broke that rule.
STUDENT: The club you just welcomed in there had their phones out.
TEACHER: They weren’t taking pictures and video.
STUDENT: How do you know I was?
TEACHER: I saw the video.
STUDENT: You saw after.
TEACHER: You did it while you were in my class. You videoed my class.
STUDENT: I seen a woman take a selfie in your class.
TEACHER: That wasn’t of people. You filmed kids without their permission. There’s a big difference young man. And put that type of connotation, “gay club” in our school. Did you hear a word those kids were saying?
TEACHER: They feel segregated against and ostracized because of stuff like that. Why would you do that? Just to be mean?
STUDENT: I wasn’t being mean.
TEACHER: Do you not accept them? How would you feel if someone judged you for the way you dressed, or your lifestyle choices? How would you feel about it? Not very good.
STUDENT: Let them judge me.
TEACHER: Would it be okay if they put crap like that….
TEACHER: Fine. That’s sad. It’s very sad that you would treat kids like this. It’s just it breaks my heart, but you’re in kindness club? I think you need to go sign up for a different club, that’s what I think. I accept you; I have been kind to you. Those kids felt safe, like they were in a safe space, and you made them feel exploited. It’s mean. It is the definition of bullying, in my opinion. And you even agreed with that, that you were bullying them. Do you want to be known as a bully, or do you want to be known as a good stand up, mature young man? Which of those, which one would you rather people view you as?
STUDENT: I’m pretty sure people don’t think of me as a bullier.
TEACHER: You just admitted that you bullied. You admitted it outright to me.
TEACHER: I want you to go down to [the counselor’s] classroom now, and I am going to be calling down to make sure you went there. And I want you to go and I want you to have a conversation with her.
STUDENT: About what?
TEACHER: About what you did. I would like for you to talk to someone about it. We don’t bully in this school. We have a zero tolerance policy for bullying, and you admitted to me, verbatim. You just admitted that you were bullying. You owned up to that. I’m proud of you for that. That takes guts. I guess you can go and tell [the counselor] about it. Kay?
TEACHER: Kay, go on.
This student, at first, did not acknowledge that he was bullying and seemed confused as to why it would be considered as such. After stating “possibly,” he was then told that his response was the wrong answer. She aggressively made him answer yes, and lead him to believe that was the right answer to the question, so to avoid getting in deeper trouble, the student felt that he was compelled to answer “yes.”
She then ranted about how his religious beliefs were wrong, by stating that he was “judgmental, mean, intolerant, and unkind.” To make matters worse, the teacher stated that he should be transferred out of his club because of his beliefs, which he holds due to his Christian religion. This was obviously religious discrimination and is a clear violation of WV’s state code.
I later asked the student why he disagreed with the lifestyle, and he stated that he is a Christian.
“I [was] yelled at, in trouble for taking a video of a gay club,” stated the student.
“What was the wording in video?” I asked.
“‘Our school now has a gay club,’” the student responded.
“And that was it?” I asked.
“That was it,” he stated.
“That’s bullying?” I questioned.
“I suppose,” said the student.
He was then sent to the counselor’s office to discuss his “judgmental” views.
This student was forced to attend a gay club meeting with no option to opt-out and then belittled and discriminated against by a teacher for his personal Christian beliefs.
In previous years, a student was beaten up and taken to the hospital after expressing his opinion regarding homosexuality. Last year I was threatened multiple times by LGBT students and student LGBT supporters, because of my religious beliefs concerning the homosexual lifestyle.
It is clear to say that Buckhannon-Upshur High School is developing a hostile and unsafe environment for Christians Students, and hopefully this problem will be addressed following the uncovering of this story.
Caiden Cowger is president and founder of Cowger Nation Media Network and Cowger France. Cowger also serves as the Editor-in-Chief of Cowger Nation.
First published at CowgerNation
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.