Teacher Jerry Buell during an
appearance on TMZ Live refused to discuss his views on gay people.
Buell, who last year was named Teacher
of the Year at Mount Dora High School in South Florida, returned to
the classroom on Thursday. He was suspended from teaching as the
district looked into comments he made on Facebook against passage of
New York's gay marriage law.
The social studies teacher was
reinstated by Lake County Schools Superintendent Susan Moxley.
Officials would not comment on whether Buell had been reprimanded.
In a July 25 Facebook post, Buell
called gay unions a sin and added that gay marriages were part of a
“If they want to call it a union, go
ahead. But don't insult a man and woman's marriage by throwing it in
the same cesspool as sames-sex whatever,” Buell wrote.
During an appearance on TMZ Live, Buell
refused to discuss his views on homosexuality and insisted they were
not pertinent to the debate on gay marriage.
When host Harvey Levin asked Buell for
his opinion on homosexuality, Buell's lawyer Harry Mihet, senior
litigation counsel for the Christian conservative Liberty Counsel,
“You know, we're not really here to
debate Mr. Buell's personal views on homosexuality because they are
not as relevant to this debate as is whether or not he has the right
to have opinions, whether or not the government can tell him what to
think or how to express those opinions on his Facebook page.”
After Buell insisted that a gay student
in his classroom would be respected, Levin shot back: “I'm not
going to drop this only because it's just odd to me that the lawyer
is speaking up and … Look, Jerry, you set out to talk about
something that had nothing to do with your students and that's your
point. When you went on Facebook, you weren't talking about your
students, so let's forget about your students for a second, it has
nothing to do with your students. You took a position on a really
important issue, and it's a position that the majority of voters of
California agree with you on. So, I am wondering, because I think
this is such a part of the debate and you are now part of that
fabric, what underlies it, and I'm interested to know what your view
on homosexuality is. This is not a trick question.”
Buell, however, never answered the
question, insisting it was not relevant to the discussion, and the
interview ended. (The video is embedded in the right panel of this