An Illinois teacher who allegedly told students that people are gay because they “were unwanted in your parents’ womb” is under investigation for making discriminatory statements in class.
“She proceeded to ask if I was gay in front of the entire class,” former student Maya Phan told WMBD. Phan is one of three former students who filed complaints against Morton High School teacher Kim Johnson who taught an “American Problems” class at the school. The students say she used the class as an excuse to “freely express hostility” towards women, LGBTQ people, and racial minorities.
“She told me that she would be OK with me being stopped in an airport for no reason, just because of the way that I looked,” Phan said. “She warned a boy to be careful at a college party because girls like to cry rape.”
The accusations go back years. Johnson is currently a part-time French teacher, but she taught the “American Problems” class in 2016, back when Phan was a student.
Another former student has come forward but doesn’t want her identity made public.
“I remember comments being made like, if you were gay that was because you were unwanted in your parents’ womb,” she said, adding that Johnson would say she was just playing “devil’s advocate” in order to express her views on LGBTQ people and minorities. “Every time I left the classroom I was shaking and nervous.”
“Kim Johnson shared with our class that she thought being gay was a choice,” said Andrew Irwin, who was in Johnson’s class in 2009. “It was at that time that it became clear to me that there wasn’t going to be a lot of productive learning going on in that classroom. She was incapable, from what I could tell, of separating her responsibilities as an educator with her religious beliefs.”
He said that Johnson would also hug students and sit on their desks, making students uncomfortable.
Phan, Irwin, and the anonymous student have filed formal complaints about Johnson.
“We are aware of the allegations which are currently under investigation,” said Morton Superintendent Jeffrey Hill in a statement. “Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation and the fact that this involves a matter involving both student and employee privacy, we cannot provide further comment.”
Johnson herself is not commenting publicly on the investigation.