Mount Dora High School social studies teacher Jerry Buell
MOUNT DORA, Florida (WKMG) -- A Lake County high school teacher said he will not apologize after posting anti-gay messages on his Facebook page.
Jerry Buell told our sister station WKMG Local 6 his comments are protected by the First Amendment, but the school district believes he may have broken state Board of Education ethics rules. The district is now investigating Buell for this incident and to see if he let his religion affect how he taught.
"If people don't believe in the Bible, it's why we have problems," said Buell, in an interview with Local 6.
The social studies teacher at Mount Dora High School does not mince words when it comes to his religion. When he saw that New York legalized gay marriage, he did what many people do: He expressed his opinion on Facebook.
"I said that it made me sick," said Buell, recalling the July 25 post.
But he didn't stop there. He called gay marriage a "cesspool," and one of his more than 700 Facebook friends saw it and complained to the district.
"I'm exercizing my rights, First Amendment rights, guaranteed in the Constitution, supported by the state of Florida -- on Facebook," said Buell.
But he argues the comments were made on his own time, on his own computer, at home during the summer.
School district spokesman Chris Patton said, "Obviously there was a lot of people looking at his Facebook page, so it probably wasn't necessarily as private as he had hoped."
Patton said the issue is not just about freedom of speech but also about separation of church and state.
A small group of people supported Buell in front of the school board Monday evening, as the district continues to investigate whether he violated state Board of Education ethics rules and just how much he allowed his religion into the classroom.
"Do I apologize? No," said Buell.
Patton said a decision may come by the end of the week, but until then Buell remains on the payroll in an adminstrative position where he does not have contact with students.