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Utah Teacher Fired After Telling 5th-Graders “Homosexuality Is Wrong”

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  • When a substitute teacher in Utah asked a class of fifth-graders what they were thankful for the week before Thanksgiving, one 11-year-old said, “I’m thankful that I’m finally going to be adopted by my two dads.”
  • But that seemed to have upset the teacher, who went on to lecture the class and tell them “homosexuality is wrong.”
  • Three girls in the class repeatedly asked her to stop, then walked out of the room to complain to the principal. 
  • The teacher was fired from the school and the staffing agency that contracted her.

Thanksgiving Exercise About Gratitude Takes a Turn 

A substitute teacher in Utah was fired after allegedly telling a class of fifth-graders that “homosexuality is wrong.”

In a video recently posted on social media, former Dancing with the Stars pro Louis Van Amstel talked about the incident that happened in his 11-year-old son Daniel’s classroom. 

The week before Thanksgiving, the substitute asked students at Deerfield Elementary School in Cedar Hills what they were thankful for ahead of the holiday. Some said turkey and mashed potatoes, others said their pets or joked about not having to go to school over the break, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

But one boy had a more serious response. “I’m thankful that I’m finally going to be adopted by my two dads,” he told the class.

However, he was surprised when the substitute teachers’ response was, “Why on earth would you be happy about that?”

The instructor reportedly proceeded to lecture the 30 students about her views for about 10 minutes. Her rant allegedly included comments like “homosexuality is wrong” and “ two men living together is a sin.” She also reportedly looked at the boy and said: “That’s nothing to be thankful for.” 

According to Van Amstel, three girls in the class asked the teacher to stop multiple times. When she continued with her comments, they walked out of the room to complain to the principal. 

Teacher Fired 

The boy’s fathers were called immediately after the incident and were told by school officials that the teacher continued to argue about her views as she was escorted out of the building. 

“She also tried to blame out son and told him that it was his fault that she went off,” Van Amstel told The Tribune.

When question by the school, Van Amstel’s son said he didn’t want to talk about it or get the teacher in trouble. The school instead pieced together the story from other student accounts and fired the teacher.

Van Amstel explained that his son understood what the substitute was saying, but he decided not to speak up because he had gone through two failed adoptions before and was afraid of causing any trouble that would make his dads rethink their decision before their final court hearing on Dec. 19. 

“He was so fearful that this could make us think that we don’t want to adopt him,” Van Amstel told the paper. “That’s definitely not going to happen. But this situation really hurt him. This person really hurt us.”

Ultimately, Van Amstel said he was pleased with how the school immediately handled the situation. “I am so proud of Daniel’s school. Not only did they let go of the teacher, they said this woman is never going to teach in this school again,” he said in his social media video

In another post, he wrote, “I’m proud of those three girls and Daniel’s school for standing up for our family against this bully.” 


Daniels’s other father, Josh Van Amstel, also told local news station KSTU that the school principal, Caroline Knadler, is “wonderful” and has been “really amazing,” He added that she escorted the substitute out of the building herself, telling her: “There’s the door, keep walking.”

Alpine School District spokesperson David Stephenson noted that Alpine has a strict non-discrimination policy. “[We’re] committed to having the best employees who care about all children in our schools, whether it be the teacher, the custodian, the secretary or a substitute teacher,” he said. 

“Obviously, when situations come up like this, we quickly investigate and take appropriate action. That was done in this situation.”

However, he said he was unsure if the substitute would be allowed to work in the district moving forward and referred that question to Kelly Services, the staffing company the district uses to contract substitutes. 

The staffing company then issued a statement to several media outlets on Sunday saying, “We are concerned about any reports of inappropriate conduct and take these matters very seriously. We conducted an investigation and made the decision to end the employee’s relationship with Kelly Services.”

See what others are saying: (ABC News) (The Salt Lake Tribune) (People

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Supreme Court Rejects Third Challenge to Affordable Care Act

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In the 7-2 decision, the justices argued the Republican-led states that brought the challenge forth failed to show how the law caused injury and thus had no legal standing.


SCOTUS Issues Opinion on Individual Mandate

The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down the third Republican-led challenge to the Affordable Care Act to ever reach the high court.

The issue at hand was the provision of the law, commonly known as Obamacare, that requires people to either purchase health insurance or pay a tax penalty: the so-called individual mandate. 

The individual mandate has been one of the most controversial parts of Obamacare and it has already been before SCOTUS, which upheld the provision in 2012 on the grounds that it amounted to a tax and thus fell under Congress’ taxing power.

However, as part of the sweeping 2017 tax bill, the Republican-held Congress set the penalty for not having health care to $0. As a result, a group of Republican-led states headed by Texas sued, arguing that because their GOP colleagues made the mandate zero dollars, it no longer raised revenues and could not be considered a tax, thus making it unconstitutional.

The states also argued that the individual mandate is such a key part of Obamacare that it could not be separated without getting rid of the entire law.

The Supreme Court, however, rejected that argument in a 7-2 decision, with Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissenting.

Majority Opinion Finds No Injury

In the majority decision, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that the Republican states had no grounds to sue because they could not show how they were harmed by their own colleagues zeroing out the penalty.

“There is no possible government action that is causally connected to the plaintiffs’ injury — the costs of purchasing health insurance,” he wrote, adding that the states “have not demonstrated that an unenforceable mandate will cause their residents to enroll in valuable benefits programs that they would otherwise forgo.”

Breyer also argued that because of this, the court did not need to decide on the broader issue of whether the 2017 tax bill rendered the individual mandate unconstitutional and if that provision could be separated from the ACA.

The highly anticipated decision will officially keep Obamacare as the law of the land, ensuring that the roughly 20 million people enrolled still have health insurance. While there may be other challenges to the law hard-fought by conservatives, this latest ruling sends a key signal about the limits of the Republican efforts to achieve their agenda through the high court, even with the strong conservative majority.

While the court has now struck down challenges to Obamacare three times, Thursday’s decision marked the largest margin of victory of all three challenges to the ACA.

For now, the ACA appears to be fairly insulated from legal challenges, though it will still likely face more. In a tweet following the SCOTUS decision, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) vowed to keep fighting Obamacare, adding that the individual mandate “was unconstitutional when it was enacted and it is still unconstitutional.”

See what others are saying: (Axios) (The Washington Post) (The Associated Press

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Utah Student With Down Syndrome Left Out of Cheer Squad’s Yearbook Photo

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The move marks the second time in three years that Morgyn Arnold has been left out of the school’s yearbook. Two years ago, it failed to include her in the class list.


Two Photos Take, One Without Morgyn Arnold

A Utah school has apologized after a student with Down syndrome at Shoreline Junior High was excluded from her cheerleading squad’s yearbook photo.

The squad took two official team portraits this year. The first included 14-year-old Morgyn Arnold, who had been working as the team manager but attended practices and cheered alongside her other teammates at every home game. The second imsgr did not include her and ended up being the photo the school used across social media and in its yearbook.

Arnold was heartbroken by the decision and her family believed it was made because of her disability.

In social media posts about the move, Arnold’s sister, Jordyn Poll, noted that Arnold “spent hours learning dances, showing up to games, and cheering on her school and friends but was left out.”

“I hope that no one ever has to experience the heartbreak that comes when the person they love comes home from school devastated and shows them that they’re not in the picture with their team,” she continued.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Poll also said this marked the second time in three years that her sister has been left out of the yearbook. Two years ago, the school failed to include her in the class list.

School Apologizes After Backlash

After Poll’s public call out picked up attention, the school said it was “deeply saddened by the mistake.”

Apologies have been made to the family, and we sincerely apologize to all others impacted by this error,” it added. “We are continuing to look at what has occurred, and to improve our practice.”

The district issued a similar statement, claiming it was looking into why this occurred to make sure it doesn’t happen again. 

But Poll said this isn’t the same response her family received when they initially contacted school administrators. Instead, Poll told the Tribune that an employee at the school “blatantly said they didn’t know what we were expecting of them and there was nothing they could do.”

The school has since contacted them again “to make the situation right.”

Meanwhile, Poll stressed that her sister’s teammates had nothing to do with the decision, defending the girls as amazing friends who have done everything to make Arnold feel included.

In fact, they too were disappointed to see that she was not featured in the image or even named as a member of the team in the yearbook.

Arnold’s family decided to speak up about the issue so that this school and others can improve the ways they interact with and include students with disabilities. Different forms of exclusion happen at schools across the country, and this story has prompted other parents of kids with disabilities to share similar experiences.

A staff attorney at the Disability Law Center of Utah told the Tribune that it receives about 4,000 complaints each year. Some complaints stemmed from students with disabilities being separated into other classrooms without their peers. Others include name-calling or not allowing students on a team or in a club.

Thankfully, Arnold has not let this situation bring her down. According to her family, she has already forgiven everyone involved and plans to continue cheering alongside her friends.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Salt Lake Tribune) (NBC News)

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Ex-Shake Shack Manager Sues NYPD Over False Milkshake Poisoning Allegations

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The former manager is accusing the police department and its unions of false arrest and defamation relating to the viral incident last summer.


Former Shack Shack Employee Sues One Year Later

The former manager of a New York City Shake Shack restaurant who was falsely accused of poisoning several law enforcement officers’ milkshakes last summer is now suing the city’s police department, its unions, and individual officers.

On June 15, 2020,  three officers monitoring the anti-racism protests in Lower Manhattan entered a Shake Shack location for milkshakes, which they later claimed had been poisoned, likely by bleach.

By the end of the night, investigators determined that no one had tampered with the drinks, and the New York Police Department declared there was “no criminality.” Police later said the officers were possibly sickened by a cleaning solution that had not been properly cleaned out of the machines, though Shake Shack claimed it did not find leaks of any foreign substances.

Before that lack of criminality was determined and while the inquiry was ongoing, the police unions and their leaders accused the Shake Shack workers of launching a targeted attack in a series of tweets, which were then shared and discussed widely on social media by prominent conservatives.

The resulting outcome was widespread condemnation and deleting of tweets. Now, almost exactly a year later, the former manager of that Shake Shack, Marcus Gilliam, has accused the parties involved of false arrest and defamation.

According to his lawsuit, the three officers — who are referred to as Officers Strawberry Shake, Vanilla Shake, and Cherry Shake — ordered the drinks via mobile app, meaning the employees could not have known cops placed the order.

Additionally, the documents state the order was “already packaged and waiting for pickup” when the officers arrived, making it impossible for Gilliam or any other employee to have added anything to the shakes when they saw the officers come in to claim them.

After the officers complained about the taste of the milkshakes and threw them out, Gilliam said he apologized and offered them vouchers for free replacements, which they accepted. However, they still told their Sergeant that Gilliam had put a “toxic substance” in their drinks, even though they had disposed of any evidence.

Claims of Wrongful Detainment 

The court documents go on to say that another officer arrived and detained the employees, who cooperated with the officer’s investigation. That process included interviews, searches, and tests, which showed no evidence of bleach or other toxins.

The NYPD also conducted a review of security footage, which independently determined that none of the employees put any kind of toxic substances in the officer’s drinks.

Despite all that, and even after the three officers were released from a hospital “without ever showing symptoms,” the NYPD still arrested Gilliam and brought him into the precinct, the suit stated.

Once in the precinct, the former manager was allegedly “interrogated for approximately one to two hours” and detained for around three hours, putting the total time he was detained by police in both the store and the precinct at approximately five to six hours.

Gilliam’s attorney is arguing that the officers had no probable cause or warrants for his arrest. An arrest that the lawsuit says caused him to suffer “emotional and psychological damages and damage to his reputation,” as well as economic damages from legal fees and missed wages, for which he is seeking both punitive and monetary damages.

None of the defendants have responded to requests for comment from the media.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (NBC News)

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