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'Homosexuality is Wrong' Utah Teacher Tells Boy Who Gave Thanks for His Two Adoptive Dads

The substitute teacher went on to say two men living together is "sinful." She was fired shortly after.

To anyone with a heart, the moment should have done nothing more than bring a tear to the eye. Last week, just before the Thanksgiving break, a substitute teacher in a fifth grade class in Cedar Hills, Utah — just south of Salt Lake City — asked her students to name something they were thankful for this holiday season.

"I'm thankful for finally being adopted by my two dads," said Daniel, one of the boys, when it was his turn.

Rather than grab a tissue to dab her eyes, or ask the classroom to join her in a hearty round of applause to celebrate Daniel finding his forever family, the teacher took it upon herself to impart her personal religious beliefs onto the young boy. "Homosexuality is wrong," the teacher said in front of the class, adding that it was "sinful" for two men to live together.

The teacher, fortunately, was fired from Kelly Services, the substitute staffing company that employed her, quickly after the incident, but the moment is nonetheless receiving widespread attention in the press — no doubt in part because one of the boy's dads, Louis van Amstel of "Dancing With the Stars," posted a video clip to his 76,000 Twitter followers with the title: "Our child was bullied."

"It shouldn't matter if you're gay, straight, bisexual, black and white," he said to the New York Times in a follow up interview. "If you're adopting a child and if that child goes to a public school, that teacher should not share her opinion about what she thinks we do in our private life."

Louis also revealed that the moment may not have come to light were it not for three of his son's classmates, who told the principal about the teacher's bigoted comments. His son, Daniel, didn't want to report the incident for fear of getting the teacher into trouble.

Louis expressed thanks that the staffing company responded as quickly as it did following the incident — and also stressed that his neighbors and community have rallied behind he and his family in the days afterward, offering support. He wanted to dispel stereotypes that Utah, because of its social conservatism and religiosity, was somehow inherently prejudiced.

"It doesn't mean that all of Utah is now bad," he told the Times. "This is one person."

It's also true that this type of prejudice is in no way limited to so-called red states, and incidents like these happen daily. LGBTQ parents and our children are subjected to homophobic and transphobic comments in schools, hospitals, stores, airlines and elsewhere as we simply go about living our lives. These moments so often fly under the radar — many classmates don't have the courage, as they fortunately did in this case, to report wrongdoing. Some administrators are far less responsive than they were here — and most of us don't have 76,000 Twitter followers to help make these moments of homophobia a national story.

All that aside, let's also get back to what should have been nothing more than a heartwarming moment — Daniel, a fifth grade boy, giving thanks to finally being legally adopted into a loving family.

Popular

A Dad Gives Thanks After Finally Saying These Words: "I'm Gay"

Cameron Call, a dad of three, came out this past July — and is thankful to be living in his truth.

Guest post written by Cameron Call

During this time of year when our hearts soften and we focus on our thank-yous and grateful-fors I feel it's time to share one of mine: I am grateful for courage. Particularly the courage to be vulnerable and finally allow myself to be seen. I've made some effort to be more real and honest the last little while when I post on here but social media still remains the world's most viewed highlight reel. It's so easy to keep up an appearance and maintain a certain reputation based on what we allow people to see. I admit that I have done this for far too long my entire life. I'm tired of hiding and I am sick of pretending.

Speaking of courage, I haven't had a lot of it throughout my life. I've always been an introvert, soft spoken, scared to share my ideas, rarely spoke up, etc. But things are different now. I'm different. For so long I've been afraid of admitting and embracing a certain truth about a part of myself. And that fear has motivated some life altering decisions throughout my 33 years of life.

Kristin and I finalized our divorce back in July after more than ten incredible years.

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When Seattle husbands Rich and Brian found out they were going to be dads, their initial reaction was panic. "It was so early in the adoption process, we weren't really ready for anything," remembered Brian. "We hadn't read any books, we didn't have a crib, we had nothing... we were going to be dads and the baby was going to be here in a week!"

"I didn't really think about being a parent," added Rich, "and more what do we needed to do logistically, and how we were going to make it all work."

The dads adopted Emerson from birth and raising a girl has taught the dads a lot; they are her biggest advocates. The dads are making sure that they're "raising a girl who feels empowered and able to speak up, play sports, just as anyone else does."

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Gay Dad Life

Why One Gay Dad is Unapologetically Embracing Christmas Early This Year

By decorating for Christmas early this year, Erik says they aren't replacing Thanksgiving--just enhancing it


With everything going on in our country, I think saying that it has been a crazy year is an understatement. It has been emotionally difficult and draining at times for many. This year brought so many new changes that it is hard to wrap our minds around some of them. The daunting feeling of uncertainty looms over our heads as we march deeper into this unfamiliar territory led by someone that is so disconnected and embarrassing.

We can take solace in knowing that a new change is on the horizon and the midterm election a couple of weeks ago proved it. We are sick of being led by a tyrant. We want a leader to be proud of. We want a role model for our children, and I have all the faith in the world that we will find that perfect statesman. When we do, all of our hearts will know it. In the meantime, let us focus our positive energy on our beautiful and diverse families all across this amazing country.

Change is hard. Change is brutal. But a lot of times, change is beautiful. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes longer than we had hoped. With that said, one thing will not change- the holidays. For most families, this time of year brings cheer, joy, hope, and optimism for the new year to come.

I have always had one golden rule when it comes to decorating our home for the holidays: the current holiday must pass before decorating for another. Last year, our 3 year old developed an appreciation for all that Christmas brings. Now, her year and a half old little sister has now started to love it too. The way they both light up and get excited when they see Christmas decorations made me re-evaluate for the first time in my life, what if I changed things up this year? Decorating earlier will also help attenuate the political frustration that this year brought. That coupled with the amazement that our little girls have for Christmas makes a strong case for decorating for Christmas early. Sure, there are diehard Thanksgiving fans that grumble at the thought of Christmas coming early and I am sure they will give this a healthy eye roll and, if so, that's ok.

We are not replacing Thanksgiving. I like to think that we are just enhancing it. We will most definitely continue to teach our children the meaning of Thanksgiving and to enjoy the symbolic feast that comes along with it. The white pumpkins I usually put out for Thanksgiving really made a statement when I mixed them with the Christmas attire. I was quite surprised and impressed by the final outcome.

These days, one of my primary goals in life is to create an environment for my family that is happy, healthy, and nurturing. I want them to get excited about Christmas, both the true meaning and the atmosphere that it brings. When my children walk into the house, I want them to be transported into a bright, cheerful place that they will always remember. Perhaps it will even inspire the way they celebrate the holidays with their families (and our future grandchildren) in the future. The world can be a harsh, cold and scary place, especially more lately it seems. I would be lying if I said I didn't do this for myself too. I am. For the first time in my life, I am worried for the future of our country. I am terrified of the direction we as Americans have taken and it is setting a precedent on what the future will be like for my family. For example, mass shootings that seem to happen monthly now met with the lack of response followed by a series of excuses by our leaders along with the bigotry and racism masked by patriotism that plague our society. I know I am speaking of sore subjects, but all of these reasons give me the motivation for welcoming the Christmas season earlier.

I do have faith that in time, competent leaders will emerge and will steer us in a direction that will help fade our fear into the bold and lionhearted society that we are. Voices were heard a couple of weeks ago. This was the most diverse group of elected officials on record! There is a fire that has been ignited within us and time will allow it to spread. That fire is coming in the form of what we all have hoped for- Change.

We as LGBTQ families need to comfort one another. Lets extend our hands to each other. Let this holiday season not be about the "correct" time in which we decorate for Christmas, moreover lets make it about coming together as a community that lifts each other up. Lets protect each other. Lets embrace each other for all the we are, all that we bring and all that we stand for. Let us not be silenced- and pushed into a corner but let us lead by example- while showing our children who their parents are by being respectful, tolerant and warmhearted as we welcome this Christmas season.

May you and your family have the most beautiful and happiest of holidays, regardless of when you choose to welcome Christmas. I pray that 2019 will bring each of you happiness, patience, resilience and with time, we will get there, together!

Gay Dad Life

Gay Men Give Thanks to Their Families This Thanksgiving

Over the years, we've asked gay dads what they were thankful for. Here are some of our favorite responses.

It's Thanksgiving! And we're feeling particularly thankful this year to have our families to lean on. In celebration, we're looking back at some of our favorite posts from our Instagram followers, explaining why they were thankful to be dads. Here are some of our favorite responses:

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