USA – A Utah dad received a call from his son’s school last Friday about a substitute teacher’s behavior toward his child.
Because the school was about to enter Thanksgiving break, the teacher asked the Cedar Hills fifth-grade students to share what made them grateful, according to the parent.
The children started sharing what they were most grateful for. When it was 11-year-old D.M.’s turn, he said he was grateful to finally be adopted by his two dads, Louis and Joshua van Amstel.
For Louis van Amstel, hearing that his son — whom he asked be referred to as D.M. to protect the boy’s privacy — was thankful for the adoption choked him up, he said in a video about the incident on Twitter.
The teacher didn’t have the same reaction, according to van Amstel.
Instead, the substitute went into a 10-minute lecture about how “homosexuality is wrong” and about how “two men living together is a sin,” the family told the Salt Lake Tribune.
She looked at D.M. and told him his two-dad adoption is “nothing to be grateful for,” the paper reported.
“You can imagine that set us off,” van Amstel said in his video. “We are not letting this go.”
Three little girls in D.M.’s class didn’t let the substitute’s words go either.
They tried to make the substitute’s alleged homophobic diatribe stop until they gave up and went to the principal’s office to complain, van Amstel said.
“The girls thought it was wrong, and they wanted to protect him and us,” van Amstel told The Washington Post in an interview Saturday.
The teacher was escorted out of the front door of the school, sticking by her statements and trying to blame D.M., he added.
Van Amstel said the school acted swiftly in dismissing the substitute.
D.M. initially didn’t want to say much about the encounter, fearing that his dads would be mad at him about it and that his adoption would be compromised. It was just the opposite, van Amstel said.
The boy had come close to adoptions in the past that didn’t come to pass, leaving him without a family, van Amstel said.
David Stephenson, a spokesman for Alpine School District, told the Tribune that “appropriate action” had been taken and that the school district has a strict nondiscrimination policy.
Kelly Services, the temp agency that assigned the teacher to the school, said in a statement Sunday that it was “concerned about any reports of inappropriate behavior” and is looking into the incident. The company did not address an inquiry regarding the substitute’s employment status.
Last Saturday, only a day after the incident, a group of the van Amstels’ neighbors stuck colorful heart-shaped notes to the couple’s driveway and entry doors to make sure they felt welcomed and loved.
“We both cried like babies,” Louis van Amstel said.
The “spiritual” couple has been in Utah for about three years, and they have felt welcomed ever since they moved into their predominantly Mormon community, van Amstel said, noting that there are about five churches and a temple within a three-mile radius of their home.
“Not once have I been treated like how this woman treated us,” he said, highlighting the kind messages the family has received from Mormon friends and neighbors in the area.
The couple plans to make an official home with D.M. on Dec. 19 at 1:30 p.m. — the date when the adoption becomes final.
“We knew the moment we met him that this is our son,” Louis van Amstel said, counting the number of weeks left.
About 26 percent of LGBT people in Utah are raising children, according to nonprofit think tank Movement Advancement Project.