BUHLER, Kan. — A Kansas middle school teacher has ignited a firestorm in the small rural Kansas community of Buhler after posting an anti-gay rant on Facebook in which he said same-sex marriage is akin to “murder, lying, stealing, or cheating.”
On the evening following President Barack Obama’s announcement supporting marriage equality for same-sex couples, Jack Conkling — a social studies teacher at Prairie Middle School, who also works as an assistant freshman women’s basketball coach at Buhler High School — wrote that he was driven to comment on the issue:
“All this talk in the news about gay marriage recently has finally driven me to write. Gay marriage is wrong because homosexuality is wrong. The Bible clearly states it is sin. Now I do not claim it to be a sin any worse than other sins. It ranks in God’s eyes the same as murder, lying, stealing, or cheating.
“His standards are perfect and ALL have sinned and fallen short of His glory. Sin is sin and we all deserve hell. Only those who accept Christ as Lord and daily with the help of the Spirit do their best to turn from sin will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. There aren’t multiple ways to get to Heaven. There is one. To many this may seem close minded and antagonistic, but it doesn’t make it any less true.
“Folks I am willing to admit that my depravity is just as great as anyone else’s, and without Christ I’d be destined for hell, if not for the undeserved grace of God. I’m not condemning gay marriage because I hate gay people. I am doing it because those who embrace it will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. And I desire that for no one.”
Conkling, whose Facebook page stated that he is a devout Christian, was immediately taken to task by the chairman of the Hutchinson chapter of of the Kansas Equality Coalition, Jon Powell, who said, “Conkling’s inflammatory statements could make students think it’s OK to bully fellow students.”
Conkling’s Facebook page, most of which is now private for friends only, listed numerous current students among his 450+ “friends.” Powell termed the posting “reckless,” “dangerous” and “irresponsible.”
Craig Williams, Prairie Middle School’s principal told The Hutchinson News the school does not have a Facebook policy for teachers.
“We’re looking into it,” Williams said, but said he could not talk about a personnel matter.
Williams did not respond to requests for comment from LGBTQ Nation, nor did district Superintendent Dan Stiffler, who told the local press that the school district’s administrators had a technology committee already looking at a policy for staff regarding use of social media.
Kansas Equality Coalition Executive Director Thomas Witt told LGBTQ Nation that although Kansas does have anti-bullying laws on the books, situations like Conkling’s are problematic.
“Mr. Conkling’s remarks may hurt himself in the short run but the problem is the negative impact on the LGBT students in the long run,” he said.
Witt noted that although the KEC is not asking for his resignation or termination due to this incident, it does serve to raise awareness that school district employees and students are engaging in gay bashing.