gay teacher

After Nathan Etter explained to his class who gave him flowers on Valentine’s Day, he was told by administrators “to stick to the curriculum.”

Supporters are rallying around a gay Illinois teacher who claims he was discriminated against by administrators after talking to his students about marriage equality.

On Valentine’s Day Nathan Etter, a first-year music teacher at Prairie View Grade School in Elgin received a bouquet of flowers from his husband, Phillip, prompting some children to make comments like “eww” and “gross.”

Etter used the incident as a “teachable moment,” briefly explaining to his students that some families have two moms or two dads and that it’s important to respect everyone. After a parent of one student voiced their concern, Etter was called into a meeting with his principal.

According to The Chicago Tribune, Etter was told to “stick to the curriculum.” In an email, a representative from the local teachers union told faculty and staff that Prairie View “treated Mr. Etter in a discriminatory manner.”

“This would have never happened if Nathan received flowers from his wife,” his husband, Philip Etter, added.

The story fueled a big show of support for Etter at Monday’s school board meeting, where some 100 parents, students, and community members, marched inside and packed the meeting room to capacity.

School board president Jeff Kellenberger said that while he appreciated the support, Etter “was not treated unjustly.” Kellenberger called Etter a valued teacher, adding he was asked back to teach again next year. “Discrimination, harassment, exclusion or intimidation in any form have no place in our schools and are not tolerated in District 301,” he said. “There is nothing to protest here. We are with you.”

Etter told the Tribune he never really worried for his job, but he was disappointed not to receive an apology.

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