When California middle school teacher Ron Fanelle was asked by his students if rumors were true that he was homosexual and he had married his longtime male partner, he decided to tell the truth and confirm it all.
“The kids walked in and there was a buzz about it,” Fanelle told the Los Angeles Times. “They said, ‘We heard you got married on Valentine’s Day; is it true?’ I said yes. They asked, ‘Was it a man?’ I said yes. Then they gave me a standing ovation.”
The social-studies instructor was asked about the identity of his “spouse,” the length of their relationship, and why he didn’t wear a wedding ring.
“I said, ‘His name is Randy. It was a beautiful wedding. Any other questions?'” Fanelle told the paper.
Upon hearing some negative comments, Fanelle read aloud to the class the sexual-harassment code from the student handbook, and discussed topics ranging from suffrage and bigotry to the Magna Carta.
Monte Vista Middle School in Camarillo, Calif.
The frank admission has now prompted an investigation by the Pleasant Valley School District, as some parents are pulling their children out of class and accusing the teacher of promoting a pro-homosexual agenda.
“Our intent is to make sure we have all the facts and we preserve everyone’s rights,” Supt. Tom Dase told the Times. “We’re not investigating an individual, and we’re certainly not investigating Mr. Fanelle because he’s homosexual.”
Fanelle’s colleagues at Monte Vista Middle School, including Principal Sara Davis, reportedly were aware of his homosexuality and his recent tying of the knot, even congratulating him during a staff meeting.
Though homosexual marriage is not legal in California, the city of San Francisco challenged the matter by printing and issuing its own marriage licenses to thousands of homosexual couples. The controversy is still pending in court.
Several weeks after the admission, the matter was brought up at the televised March 4 school-board meeting by parent David Maddux.
“I come to you tonight with a heavy heart,” Maddux told the board, according to the report. “A seventh-grade history teacher announced to his students he’s gay. I’m very upset and disappointed that this person was bringing his homosexual platform to the classroom. Mr. Fanelle opened a homosexual dialogue, telling his class he used to be married and he decided he wanted to be homosexual. He said he had homosexual feelings and tendencies.”
But other parents, including Elizabeth Rice, are rallying to support Fanelle, writing a letter to the principal.
“I, for one, find nothing distressing whatsoever in a teacher indicating his or her sexual orientation to my children,” Rice wrote to Davis.
“As I am sure you are aware, the angry voices you hear at Monte Vista do not speak for many of us. Indeed, I believe equally strongly that we should not continue the prejudice against, and denial of civil rights to, this minority group.”
The Times reports Fanelle has since filed complaints against two fellow teachers, claiming they helped spread the word about his homosexuality.
“I got outed,” Fanelle said. “I didn’t come and tell the kids I was gay. I just gave them the information when they asked about it. I’m the one that got discriminated against.”