Last edited: January 01, 2005
Judge Rules for Lesbian Teacher
The Associated Press, November 25, 1998
SALT LAKE CITY -- A federal judge ruled Wednesday in favor of a high
school teacher who claimed she was fired as volleyball coach because she is a lesbian.
Wendy Weaver said Spanish Fork High School officials violated her rights with a gag order
that prevented her from talking with students or staff about her sexual orientation, even
outside of school.
Judge Bruce Jenkins agreed that her rights of free speech, equal protection and due
process were violated. He ordered the school district to offer Weaver the coaching
position, lift the gag order and give her $1,500 in damages.
"Although the Constitution cannot control prejudices, neither this court nor any
other court should, directly or indirectly, legitimize them," Jenkins wrote.
School lawyers were not immediately available for comment.
The Weaver case has attracted national attention because of the precedent it could set for
how public schools treat homosexual teachers and coaches.
"It acknowledges that they can respond honestly about who they are ... without fear
of constitutional restraints on their expressions," said Stephen Clark, legal counsel
for the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah.
Jenkins noted that Weaver was threatened with disciplinary action for discussing her
intimate associations and sexual orientation, yet no other teacher faced the same
Weaver said she is not sure whether to apply next year for the coaching job but does not
anticipate the ruling will affect her work as a psychology teacher.
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