3 Elementary School Students Take Action Against Teacher Who Told Classmate Having Two Dads Was ‘Wrong’

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A substitute teacher was fired from a Utah elementary school after telling a fifth grade student with two dads that “homosexuality is wrong.”

During the week before Thanksgiving in 2019, the class was doing an exercise at Deerfield Elementary School in Cedar Hills, Utah, where students were asked what they were thankful for.

For one 11-year-old boy, he spoke up about how he was thankful for his two dads, Louis and Joshua van Amstel, who were in the process of fully adopting him.

The Utah teacher told Louis Van Amstel's son homosexuality was 'a sin.'

Students in the classroom said that after the boy said he was thankful to be adopted by his dads, the substitute teacher asked him, “Why on earth would you be happy about that?”

The next several minutes then consisted of the teacher lecturing the class of 30 children about her own views and how “homosexuality is wrong,” and “two men living together is a sin.”

She also reportedly looked at the boy and told him, “That’s nothing to be thankful for.”

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The boy’s father, Louis van Amstel, who worked as a dance coach for multiple seasons on the television show “Dancing With the Stars,” and now works as a judge in a Netherlands version of the show, spoke up about the incident.

After hearing about what his son had said in the class, he got choked up, sharing his thoughts in a video that he posted to his Twitter.

“I got choked up when he said he is thankful that he is finally being adopted by his two dads,” van Amstel said. “Well, the substitute teacher was giving her very clear opinion about two men is wrong, homosexuality is wrong. Yeah, so you can imagine that set us off.”

Three girls in the class had asked the teacher to stop multiple times, and when the woman continued, the girls walked out of the classroom to get the principal.

The teacher was escorted out of the building, still arguing and trying to prove her point, while also blaming the 11-year-old boy for causing her to start talking about the topic.

Louis and his husband were immediately alerted to what had happened, and at first their son had not wanted to talk about the incident for fear of getting the substitute teacher in trouble. 

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The teacher was fired from the school.

Administrators were able to piece the story together from other students who were in the classroom and were able to take the appropriate measures of firing the teacher from their school.

David Stephenson, a spokesman for Alpine School District, said in a statement to the Salt Lake City Tribune that “appropriate action” had been taken and that the school district has a strict nondiscrimination policy.

Louis says that he appreciates what the three girls did for his son, as well as the school’s quick response, though he wonders how something like that could’ve happened in the first place.

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“It’s absolutely ridiculous and horrible what she did,” van Amstel added. “We were livid. It’s 2019 and this is a public school.”

The couple had been living in Utah for three years, and have felt welcomed by everyone in their community since moving into their predominantly Mormon neighborhood.

A few days after the incident, neighbors of the van Amstel family decorated their house with paper hearts that said, “We love you,” and “We support you.”

According to the nonprofit think tank Movement Advancement Project, there are about 26% of LGBT people in Utah that are raising children.

Gen-Z is also known to be the generation that embraces people who identify within any aspect of the LGBTQ+ community.

Their openness is said to be a result of the more visible representation that this generation is seeing at young ages. More celebrities are being vocal about their sexual orientation and gender identity, including people like Lil Nas X, Harry Styles, Jojo Siwa, and Demi Lovato.

Knowing how open young children are becoming towards people in the LGBTQ+ community is heartwarming, especially in instances like this.

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.