HUNTSVILLE, Ala.(WHNT)-A classroom conversation on the Bible and homosexuality is now the center of a federal investigation at Huntsville City Schools.
On Thursday, WHNT News 19 obtained a copy of a letter sent from the U.S. Department of Education to Huntsville City Schools Superintendent Casey Wardynski. It informs the district that federal investigators will look into claims of alleged harassment and discrimination that center around an incident at Grissom High School back in April.
According to the letter, a female student in a Junior ROTC class was offended and intimidated after her instructor expressed his opinion that the Bible does not support homosexual lifestyles. A local gay and lesbian advocate who filed a complaint on the student's behalf admits that other students initiated the conversation with the teacher, but insisted that the instructor was still out of line.
"A student contacted me asking me for help when this situation happened," said James Robinson, director of the GLBT Advocacy and Youth Services Center in Huntsville. "He [teacher] doesn't know what's in the hearts and minds of all the students. He doesn't know what might offend some students. It is a very touchy question. If someone asks your opinion, you may have the appropriateness to give it. But that's not the perception of what happened according to the other student."
Sources told WHNT News 19 that there are conflicting accounts from other students regarding who said what, and what the actual context of the conversation was. The complaint also claims that Grissom administrators failed to provide required updates to the student's mother on what action was being taken over the allegations. Robinson said the teacher apologized to his class the day after the incident in April.
Officials with Huntsville City Schools declined to talk on camera, but the district did issue a brief written statement.
"Huntsville City Schools received a letter this week from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights of its intentions to investigate a complaint," the statement read. "The letter notes that the investigation in no way implies that the OCR has made a determination with regard to their merits, and that the OCR is a neutral fact-finder in analyzing the complaint. The district will work with the OCR to provide any assistance to assure a prompt resolution."
To read the full letter from the U.S. Department of Education, click here: http://localtvwhnt.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/ocr-letter-to-hcs.pdf