A popular math teacher who was fired from Benson High School in Portland, Oregon for refusing to allow Planned Parenthood to present their sex-ed program in his classroom has filed a lawsuit alleging the violation of his civil rights as well as employment discrimination.
The Life Legal Defense Fund (LLDF) is reporting on the case of Bill Diss, a popular teacher at Benson High who had been teaching math at the school for eleven years before his termination on December 16, 2013.
The incident in question took place in September, 2012, when Planned Parenthood employees came to the door of Diss’ classroom while he was handing out grades on a math quiz. The group was there to recruit for their Teen Outreach Program (TOP), a study produced by Planned Parenthood and funded by the federal government in which students are taught about “safe sex” and then encouraged to teach their peers. Any student who completes the study is paid $30.
According to STOPP, this is an insidious program that encourages sexual promiscuity even though the permission slip sent home to parents barely mentions the sex ed portion of the program. Although it does inform parents that their child will be escorted to off-campus activities by Planned Parenthood staff, it makes all kinds of questionable claims, such as how the program has brought about a 53 percent reduction in the risk of teen pregnancy, a 62 percent reduction of school suspension, and a 60 percent reduction in course failure. All of these statistics were provided to them by Philliber Research Associates, an organization tied to Planned Parenthood.
Diss, a devout Roman Catholic, was aware of the content of the program and refused to allow the representatives into his classroom. A few minutes later, the principal and vice principal arrived and removed Diss from the class. The next day, administrators compelled him to sit through a Planned Parenthood presentation. What he observed only made him more concerned.
“They were extremely aggressive in obtaining the children’s signatures by promising them all sorts of gifts and cash,” Diss said.
Diss formally asked to be excused from participating in the program, but administrators denied this request and began to subject him to a series of unwarranted reviews and harassment.
“The level of scrutiny to which he was subjected is unprecedented, and included record numbers of in-class observations, as well as minute instructions of what Diss could and could not do in class,” reports the LLDF, who is representing the teacher.
“While Diss consistently complied with directives and worked to improve his teaching, nothing he did satisfied Benson High School administrators who worked overtime to build a case for Diss’ termination. They eventually succeeded. Despite a wave of community support, including letters from students, parents and fellow teachers, Mr. Diss was let go from work on March 19, 2012 and his contract was terminated on December 16, 2013.”
“Planned Parenthood seems to enjoy protected status at Portland Public Schools. Mr. Diss came under attack as soon as he objected,” comments Dana Cody, LLDF President and Executive Director.
“Keep in mind that Portland Public Schools took the part of Planned Parenthood against Mr. Diss—the same Planned Parenthood caught on tape earlier this summer giving a teenager advice on how to access pornography, and engage in dangerous, deviant sexual acts.”
The 38-page suit filed on Diss’ behalf claims that he suffered a violation of free speech, was discriminated against because of his faith and was wrongfully discharged. The suit is seeking $90,000 in economic damages for his lost wages and $300,000 for emotional distress caused by the incident.
“An employer—especially a public employer—should not discriminate against someone for their beliefs,” Cody says.
“While this is only the beginning, we trust that Mr. Diss will ultimately be vindicated, and that future, well-qualified teachers will not be subjected to discipline and termination from employment for their religious and moral beliefs.”
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