by WorldTribune Staff, March 14, 2018
To mark the one-month anniversary of the Parkland, Florida school massacre, students at Asheville City Schools in North Carolina were permitted to take part in a nationwide walkout to protest gun violence, according to a local news commentary about this and other issues parents are having with the public school system.
Superintendent Denise Patterson, in a message on the Asheville City Schools website, said students could leave class to protest, the Asheville Tribune reported on March 14.
“Will the school system support a student-led walkout and protest of abortion?” Leicester resident Lisa Sprouse asked Tribune columnist Chad Nesbitt. Her husband Joel Sprouse said, “President Trump wants safe schools. Will the school administration condone a student-led walkout in support of President Trump arming teachers?”
“Is Buncombe County and Asheville City Schools condoning progressive pep rallies to push liberal agendas on school kids?,” columnist Chad Nesbitt asked.
The column cited students at Clyde A. Erwin High School who said history teacher Tate McQueen “constantly berates President Trump in class.”
The Tribune obtained several recordings made by students in which McQueen reportedly tears down Trump and engages in discussions of sexuality.
One recording alleges McQueen saying, “If you personally think you may have a problem with gays, lesbians, transgender,..(pause).., don’t have any kids because they come from straight people.”
A student asked, “What does my history teacher’s opinions about gays, lesbians, and transgenders have to do with American history?”
Nesbitt noted that students pointed to a tweet by McQueen in which the history teacher “reaches out to the former president of Mexico and wishes he was the United States president, calling president Trump ‘an idiot.’ ”
In another tweet, McQueen says: “#coup is what the GOP has done with an adversarial foreign power. #amerikkka”.
McQueen did not respond to the Tribune’s request for comment.
Art and drama students at Asheville High School told Nesbitt that, on March 6, their classes “were called to an ‘assembly’ where a transgender person gave a lecture on transgenderism, pangenderism, and a question and answer forum followed.”
Nesbitt noted that parents had not been notified prior to the lecture about its sexual nature.
One student said, “I felt uncomfortable. I felt like the lecture was pushing me to become transgender. I feel like if I say anything about it to my teacher or even some of my friends, I will get labeled as a bigot.”
Another student said, “I left there confused. I love gay people, and I love transgender people, but you can’t change basic biology. You are either a boy or a girl. I signed up for art, not this. If I say anything about it, then they would call me a racist.”
The Tribune asked Asheville City Schools director of communications Ashley Thublin about the lecture. Thublin responded via email: “On Tuesday, March 6th, Asheville High School’s ceramics teacher invited local artist Mac McCusker. The teacher had received prior approval from Principal Dr. Jesse Dingle. A permission form was not sent home asking for parental consent because the assembly occurred on Asheville High School’s campus during the school day. Students in the ceramics class had looked at Mac McCusker’s ceramics beforehand and were preemptively prepared for its content. All invited students had an interdisciplinary purpose for attending the assembly. The discussion was not about sexual orientation but examining art through the lens of gender. The nationally recognized artist is transgender and presented their personal ‘Gendered Clay’ series.”
Nesbitt reported that “students say the next day, March 7, art teacher Miss McCombs showed a video in class about gay people.”
A gay Asheville High student told the Tribune that this video “singled out straight kids” and “made them feel uncomfortable.” The student said, “Just stick to art class.”
Buncombe County school superintendent Tony Baldwin told Nesbitt: “We have a policy entitled Employee Political Activities (Policy 7720). It notes that a teacher must not use their official school position to encourage or to coerce students or other employees of the system to support in any way a political party, candidate, or issue.” In addition, it goes on to state that the policy should not be “construed as prohibiting the impartial study and discussion of political or other controversial issues in the classroom setting.”
School Board policy states that if parents have a complaint about a teacher they should contact the school principal, and the school board will begin an investigation, Nesbitt’s column said.