Follow breaking news @lgbtqnation
Around the Nation

Missouri

School board: Joplin teacher cleared of wrongdoing in anti-gay Facebook post

Thursday, October 27, 2011

JOPLIN, Mo. — A high school math teacher in Joplin, Mo., who allegedly posted anti-gay comments on Facebook, including a suggestion that more gay youth should commit suicide, has been cleared of any wrongdoing by the school district.

Superintendent C.J. Huff of the Joplin Board of Education said that Jim Whitney’s Facebook account “was compromised” and that there were no findings that would indicate Whitney was responsible for posting the remarks.

In the brief Facebook thread on Oct. 19, a comment that originated from Whitney’s account said, “Moral of the story: Don’t be gay.”

The comment was in response to a former student who had posted a link to a news article about Jamie Hubley, a 15-year-old gay teen from Ottawa who recently committed suicide.

When another commenter replied, “How many more kids have to kill themselves before everyone realizes that this is an actual issue?” the response from Whitney’s account was, “11-13 ought to do it.”

In an email statement to the Joplin Globe on Monday, Whitney did not deny posting the comment on Facebook, only that he “regrets the post appeared:”

“I do not condone bullying or harassment of any kind and I am very aware and saddened by the negative impact this type of behavior creates. I regret that the posts appeared on Facebook. They do not reflect my personal views and I apologize for any and all offenses caused by the comment.”

According to Huff, the board of education discussed the matter in a “closed session” on Tuesday night following its investigation into the incident, reported the Globe.

“It’s unfortunate when you’re dealing with social media and dealing with technology and the potential for people to get on to other people’s accounts and say things that shouldn’t be said,” Huff told KZRG Radio.

The school board did not offer any explanation as to who or how Whitney’s account was compromised, nor whether the comments originated from a school computer, of Whitney’s personal computer.

Whitney has declined to make himself available to comment, and has not issued a statement since his email to the Globe on Monday.

A spokesperson at Facebook told LGBTQ Nation on Thursday that an account is almost impossible to hack unless the user had direct access to the password, or the computer was left unattended while the account owner was logged in.

Facebook employs additional security measures to validate account ownership to prevent accessing user accounts from unknown locations or devices.

Archives: , , , , , , ,

Filed under: Missouri

66 more reader comments:

  1. really???? wow….just proves how fucked up the state i live in is…

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:25pm
  2. bullshit!

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:25pm
  3. What a load of shit!

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:25pm
  4. WHAT?!?!

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:25pm
  5. That’s fucked up craig…

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:26pm
  6. Wow ok! So a school teacher can say gay youth should kill themselves and he gets a slap on the wrist? I’m confused.

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:26pm
  7. What is the point in anti-discrimination laws if they don’t pick this kinda shot up? I believe in free-speech but there’s a line between that and this!

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:28pm
  8. *eye roll* Well the more shit like this the more homophobic our youth is going to be.

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:28pm
  9. Sounds fishy to me.

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:28pm
  10. So the town gets hit by a tornado and this is what comes out of it?

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:29pm
  11. WHY WHY WHY?! God damn it all!

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:29pm
  12. insane… but not surprised.

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:29pm
  13. Omg is that what he said?! Wow you’d think with the recent rise in gay teen suicides they would be treating this more appropriatly!

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:30pm
  14. If a teacher posted this same comment about black children or white children or Jewish kids, there would be an immediate punishment. But because its about LGBT youth, they are “cleared of any wrongdoing?”!!! As an LGBT young person, this shows me that something is seriously wrong with this country. Either we are ALL free or none of us are.

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:31pm
  15. BS. Another bigot teacher walks free. While a Gay coach lost his job for simply being Gay.

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:32pm
  16. I hate when these people get away with doing and saying any damn thing they want. If it had been a homosexual who had said straight people need to kill themselves then there would have been this whole “evil gays” thing, but no. These “straight” people get away with this kind of bullshit. Latent homosexuals and their need to rip apart anyone who isn’t ashamed of being who they really are. Bah humbug.

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:33pm
  17. BULL. SHIT. FUCKING BULL. SHIT. There was concrete evidence of what he said and he got off!? WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THIS COUNTRY?!

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:33pm
  18. How could the school board let the teacher get away with this? That is so wrong.

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:33pm
  19. How the hell can this be cleared? This totally sends the wrong message, and encourages BULLYING!!! THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!!!!

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:33pm
  20. He’ll probably get a promotion

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:33pm
  21. Unnacceptable. Completely and TOTALLY unnaceptable.

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:34pm
  22. : Horrible. That is an insult to each of us!

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:34pm
  23. There is no justice. And this happened in my home state too. That makes it hurt even more.

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:36pm
  24. @Shanita Perry-Wright People who are homophobic can actually be straight. There is a very strong social upbringing that generations older than us have been raised in which sticks hard. People fear what they don’t understand so most people who are homophobic are scared thanks to propaganda they grew up with versus being in the closet.

    That doesn’t make it okay but your comment just makes yourself look ignorant which is NOT what the LGBT movement needs in its corner.

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:37pm
  25. Closed session, no compelling evidence, and no explanations offered. Something’s definitely not right here.

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:37pm
  26. Fuck you Ken Zeman!

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:37pm
  27. Our country is so sad really and I dont know how this evil bastard got away with this. Truely unbelievable

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:38pm
  28. what happened to free speech and employment without judgment it pisses me off that people cant leave us alone

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:38pm
  29. missouri is mostly ruled by the republican party. i am ashamed to be from this state.

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:39pm
  30. Although it is, Missouri happens to be a relatively livable state when you look past the homophobia.

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:40pm
  31. I’m happy with the result. Firing someone based on their opinion posted on a social media website is a scary precedent.

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:42pm
  32. you’d think that a city which suffered large amount of damage from a very deadly tornado where many people died…they’d be a little bit more loving, caring, etc? Especially since they are getting aid from in and outside the state? You’re welcome Joplin and that’s how you repay us? Seriously. People. Ugh.

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:46pm
  33. I live in Joplin and didn’t hear anything about this.

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:49pm
  34. someone with that level of hate should not be around kids

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:51pm
  35. I find it very suspicious that the teacher has not denied making the comments. The potential of a compromised account only matters if the teacher denies posting the comments; if the teacher did post the comments, what does it matter that the account may have been compromised?

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:53pm
  36. i agree stacey

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:55pm
  37. Hey Val… do you think the same outcome would happen if this teacher was an atheist saying it about christian students? I believe in free speech as well, but teachers need to be professional. They/we chose a profession where we will be working with many different students, and it is our job to teach and protect them all. With that said, teachers should get fired for being unprofessional. He was most definitely unprofessional.

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:57pm
  38. ugh i hope the whole town gets wiped off the map next time a tornade rolls around.

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 8:00pm
  39. if i was the superentintent of the school district i would be like 1 semester suspension for first time then id fire that bitch

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 8:00pm
  40. Val – it’s not so much that they should have been fired for voicing their opinion, it’s how they did it and the things they said. If you had kids, would you want them spending most of their time with someone encouraging suicide? If you had a kid that was in the closet and afraid to come out, would you want them hearing from their TEACHER that they should kill themselves???

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 8:10pm
  41. Of course… no one ever wants to take responsibility anymore for their actions!!!!

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 8:13pm
  42. So the post just “appeared”??? wow……. People sure are gullible

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 8:15pm
  43. omfg that’s as stupid as the excuse my dog ate my homework wtf

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 8:16pm
  44. Well, at least we all know who he is now and what he is doing. He can be watched closely. We know where to find him if he does anything more :-{P}

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 8:19pm
  45. Brittney, you don’t believe in free speech if you think anyone should be fired for a comment on a social media website. As a teacher, I do not want to fear being fired for any legal thing that I may do outside of the classroom. It’s archaic. What’s next? Fired because I smoke? Reprimanded because I am at a gay bar drunk? Suspended because I think Tea Party members would be better off with a lobotomy? I don’t like what the teacher wrote at all and think s/he is a worthless human being, but it’s a slippery slope we are walking when one is reprimanded at work for something written on Facebook.

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 8:23pm
  46. Sasha, had the teacher said it in the classroom s/he should definitely be reprimanded. But it wasn’t said there. It was written on Facebook where the only way the public would see it (assuming privacy settings) is if someone leaked it. Someone had an agenda and reported it. Perhaps the lesson learned here is know who your “friends” are.

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 8:32pm
  47. Patrick…that was insensitive, offensive, and wishing others dead. Should you be fired from your job because you just stated that you think that the entire town of Joplin should be wiped out by a tornado? ?? Can’t have it both ways.

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 8:34pm
  48. Did any of you really expect a different outcome ? Ppl can beat us ,kill us ,just about do anything they want and the outcome is always the same !!

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 8:34pm
  49. wtf? is inbreeding still rampant in missouri???

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 8:42pm
  50. I’ve lived in Joplin my whole life, I saw this coming sadly.

    This is still “good ole boy” Country in a lot of ways, doubt they even did much of an investigation at all.

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 8:43pm
  51. This is ludicrous!!

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 8:49pm
  52. Not surprised in the least, that’s Joplin for ya….

    Can’t wait to leave this place, something was clearly not right with this picture.. they cleared him entirely too quickly… the session was closed.. the likelihood of his account being “hacked” is almost non existent etc.

    Was swept under the rug…. good ole homophobic “good ole boy” southwest Missouri. I doubt they even investigated it to be honest.

    Having said that, your comment is incredibly inappropriate as well Patrick, not all of us in this town are bad first and foremost and additionally I wouldn’t wish anything like that tornado to happen again to my worst enemy.

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 8:57pm
  53. Oh and additionally he was posting about baseball (he’s a huge baseball fan) within some 10 to 15 minutes of the comments that were made.

    His account wasn’t hacked, he made what was likely a joke in really poor taste and then once it got out there he freaked out and came up with the hacking excuse.. that our school board somehow either bought, or more likely they had no intention of doing anything about it in the first place. He should have at the very least been suspended and made to make an apology.. not just sweep it under the rug.

    Had he said comments like that about any other minority group around, they would have taken things seriously.. just goes to show that people still think they can (and sadly often get away with) saying whatever they want about LGBT people.

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 9:01pm
  54. It’s pretty terrible, but I’m not surprised. School boards are not governed by brilliance, wisdom, or logic. They’re ruled by politics, and if this teacher had friends in the right places, they’re untouchable. Meanwhile, a good teacher can get pwnt if someone upstairs wants their job for a friend.

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 9:22pm
  55. bullllllllshit

    Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 11:52pm
  56. I feel every straight person should read Stilettos and Steel. It is a novel that is a game changer,like uncle Toms cabin. Straights need to read a novel to touch there hearts in the privacy of there own bed;-} http://www.stilettosandsteel.com

    Posted on Friday, October 28, 2011 at 12:06am
  57. bullshit

    Posted on Friday, October 28, 2011 at 1:00am
  58. IF and that’s a big if the teacher’s Facebook account was compromised, then he ought to be held accountable for being lax on security. However, based on the statements that teacher made, I think he’s lying about his account being compromised.

    Posted on Friday, October 28, 2011 at 4:50am
  59. Another outrage….

    Posted on Friday, October 28, 2011 at 7:30am
  60. Wow, its so sad to see how parts of our country are still bigots

    Posted on Friday, October 28, 2011 at 7:57am
  61. Earlier I said that this teacher needed to be fired and have his teaching license/certificate revoked. I stand by this. If you, like me, want to complain to the school board admins and let them know that this sort of hate is NOT tolerated, you can find contact info at http://joplinschools.org

    Posted on Friday, October 28, 2011 at 8:03am
  62. he admitted to posting it, how can they clear that. even if his account was compromised he said he did it. he is only sorry he got caught. i would not have a child of mine anywhere near him. pre teens and teen are especially vunerable and suicide seems to be on the rise. what is he teaching these kids. i would have fired him immediately, had his comment been for blacks, fat kids, muslums,jews, athiest or any other group to commit suicide it would not have been stood for but gays are the one group our society condones hateing. sad, i bet he is in church every sunday calling himself a good christian. he will be held accountable by god

    Posted on Friday, October 28, 2011 at 9:12am
  63. You sick schoolboard and any others involved in this decision. Shame on you for allowing this man to tell children to go kill themselves! OMG! What terrible things are happening in this country, Fire the scumbag

    Posted on Friday, October 28, 2011 at 3:12pm
  64. Sorry. I don’t buy this. No proof his account was hacked???

    Closed conference???

    Nope. Don’t buy it.

    Posted on Friday, October 28, 2011 at 6:00pm
  65. This makes me worry about the future of my young children! I won’t say that this world just keeps getting worse and worse, but people’s ethics Really scare me, especialy if these are the people that have my kids most of the day and teach them! Who knows if he wrote it or not, maybe not although I would think he would make some sort of statement….. I wish there was a magical perfect school district, but its like the lotto it seems, you gotta take your pick of the lesser evil

    Posted on Friday, November 4, 2011 at 12:20am
  66. wow, while I understand you have the right to voice your opinion, as nasty as it sounds, I have the right to express my opinion that you are a heartless human being if you honestly feel that way. I am a very thankful survivor of that tornado and I wouldnt wish something like that to happen to my worst enemy.. hopefully you will never have to huddle in a closet with your family and wonder if you will be alive in a couple of minutes.

    Posted on Friday, November 4, 2011 at 12:23am