Earlier this week I brought you the story of teacher Tom Leahy, who was to submit a forced resignation for daring to show kids in his class a real film about real bullying.
Well, he decided not to resign after all. I guess he decided he wasn't going to let a bunch of conservative parents bully him into backing off from his choice to challenge kids to actually see the consequences of being bullied.
“I changed my mind,” Tom Leahy said Thursday. “I’d like to continue teaching.”
Leahy, a social studies teacher at Conway Springs Middle School, has been on leave and was asked to resign after he showed his eighth-grade history students “Love Is All You Need,” a short film that depicts a fictional world in which heterosexual children are bullied by homosexual classmates.
He and Superintendent Clay Murphy were scheduled to address the community at a joint news conference Thursday evening. That event was canceled shortly after noon at Leahy’s request, Murphy said.
“There’s a lot of people who don’t want me to give up on this. People I don’t even know,” Leahy said.
He said he plans to address the Conway Springs school board when it meets at 7:30 p.m. Monday.
“I’d like to have the chance to tell them my side of things. I think they will be OK with that,” he said.
Since a Wichita Eagle story was published Monday, Leahy has received “an unbelievable amount of support” from parents, students and community members, he said.
Leaders of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, a national anti-bullying organization, said Thursday it plans to launch a widespread effort in support of Leahy. The foundation is named for an 18-year-old Rutgers University student who jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge in 2010 after being bullied by classmates.
“This is a moment where a small town is going to be known for how it treats one of its own,” said Sean Kosofsky, the foundation’s executive director.
“Is this town going to rally behind a teacher who did nothing wrong, or is it going to cave to fear?”
Good. I'd hate to see a bunch of conservative fear merchants destroy a good teacher's career because he dared to challenge kids to consider bullying from a different point of view.