Apology coming for Tacoma teacher fired for being gay

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by DREW MIKKELSEN / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on July 10, 2014 at 6:30 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 10 at 7:58 PM

TACOMA, Wash. --  Jim Gaylord knew he was right.

It’s taken the Tacoma School Board 42 years to admit it.

In 1972 the Wilson High School social studies teacher was asked by a Vice Principal if Gaylord was gay.

“I acknowledged I was gay and then a few weeks later I got notice the school board was firing me,” said Gaylord.

He sued the district, but a Pierce County judge and the state’s Supreme Court ruled the district was justified in firing him.

”It constituted immorality,” said Gaylord, who later testified in Olymipa in favor of legislation that now protects homosexuals from being discriminated against.

He never returned to teaching and said the firing bothered him for the next 30 years.

Now, 42 years later, the school district is ready to apologize.

”I will be saying, I am sorry,” said school board president Kurt Miller, who calls the apology long overdue.

Miller first heard about the incident with Gaylord from a teen member of Tacoma’s Oasis, a drop-in clinic for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth.

The board president said the district cannot offer Gaylord any back-pay because in 1972 no law was broken.

Miller knows the apology can only do so much for Gaylord.

”I don’t know how you get over something like that, your life just stolen away from you,” said Miller.

Gaylord said the apology, which will be delivered at an Oasis fundraiser Sunday night in Tacoma, is a pleasant surprise.

”I just had never expected it, so I guess that’s why I’m so pleased about it,” said Gaylord.

He said the apology won’t right the wrong, but it helps.

“It will be a kind of closure,” said Gaylord.
 

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