SC Equality pushes for principal’s termination

Principal Eddie Walker issued resignation over gay club

Updated: May 22, 2008, 5:40 p.m. EST


Irmo High School Principal Eddie Walker (left) stands with a community member and students

IRMO, S.C. — The principal of Irmo High School, located just minutes to the northwest of Columbia, announced to the school today his intentions to resign at the end of the 2008-2009 school year. His resignation is the result of an order from the school superintendent to allow the formation of a gay-straight student organization, most commonly known as gay-straight alliances, or GSAs.

In a letter sent to the student body and faculty, and obtained by WIS News 10 Columbia, Irmo High School Principal Eddie Walker wrote, “The formation of this club conflicts with my professional beliefs in that we do not have other clubs at Irmo High school based on sexual orientation, sexual preference, or sexual activity. In fact our sex education curriculum is abstinence based. I feel the formation of a Gay/Straight Alliance Club at Irmo High school implies that students joining the club will have chosen to or will choose to engage in sexual activity with members of the same sex, opposite sex, or members of both sexes.”

Walker also said he had “prayed about the decision for a period of time and I have a peace about it.”

Now, SC Equality, an LGBT advocacy organization based in Columbia, is pushing for Walker’s immediate termination.

“This Principal has emphatically and publicly stated that he does not support a significant portion of his student body,” SC Equality Executive Director C. Ray Drew said on May 22. “He has created an atmosphere where intolerance is considered a principled stand.”

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Research completed via national student surveys conducted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) shows that 80 percent of LGBT students do not know a single supportive adult at their school. The data also shows that 38 percent of gay students face hostility and violence in the course of their required attendance at school and 18 percent of gay students experience physical assault.

“Gay students face more verbal harassment and physical violence than any group of students,” SC Equality claimed.

Rev. Bennie Colclough, the minister of Providence Christian Church and a member of the Board of Directors of South Carolina Equality stated, “I ask Mr. Walker to join me in prayer for these gay students who face wholesale discrimination and harassment every day of their school year. Discrimination is simply immoral.”

He added, “[Walker’s] resignation is a farce. If he truly stands on religious convictions, then why didn’t he resign immediately? Instead he has deliberately created an unsafe world for these students for the next year.”

Buddy Price, Lexington School District Five’s director of community services, issued a statement outlining the system’s reasons for allowing the gay-straight alliance.

The statement read, “The federal law known as the Equal Access Act does not permit the school to discriminate against a club based on the club’s purpose and viewpoint by not allowing it to form unless the purpose of the club is unlawful.”

“It is a shame that the principal at Irmo High School in South Carolina decided to place religion-based bigotry and discrimination over his former commitment to his students and staff,” Faith In America Executive Director Brent Childers said in a prepared statement. “We truly believe it is unfortunate that this principal cannot see the immense harm that is caused when a social climate of rejection, condemnation and violence is justified with misguided religious belief. To make such a choice over simply allowing gay youth a forum to meet and talk, alludes to the apparent deep-seated prejudice that must exist in the religious mindset of this person.”

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FULL LETTER TO IRMO HIGH SCHOOL
Principal Eddie Walker

Courtesy WIS 10 Columbia

Dear Irmo Nation,

In March I told our faculty and staff, PTSO Board, and SIC that I would be remaining at Irmo High school for two more years. I was committed to stay through the 2009-2010 school year. I am currently in good health, am excited about the future of Irmo High school, am making new friends every day, and continuing to learn from my student heroes on a daily basis. In short I am excited about coming to work every day.

However due to a recent conflict involving my professional and religious beliefs I sent Dr. Angela Bain a letter of resignation effective June 30, 2009. On May 14, 2008, I was instructed by email to allow the formation of a Gay/Straight Alliance Club at Irmo High School. On May 15, 2008 I told Ms. Ann Pilat to allow the formation of this club for the 2008-2009 school year.

Allowing the formation of this club on our campus conflicts with my professional beliefs and religious convictions. I considered resigning this year but reconsidered because to not fulfill my written contract for the 2008-2009 school year would also conflict with my professional beliefs and religious convictions. In my opinion failure to fulfill my contract would constitute a breach of trust with School District Five of Lexington and Richland County, my student heroes, returning Irmo High School employees, and new employees who have chosen to work at Irmo High school for the 2008-2009 school year.

The formation of this club conflicts with my professional beliefs in that we do not have other clubs at Irmo High school based on sexual orientation, sexual preference, or sexual activity. In fact our sex education curriculum is abstinence based. I feel the formation of a Gay/Straight Alliance Club at Irmo High school implies that students joining the club will have chosen to or will choose to engage in sexual activity with members of the same sex, opposite sex, or members of both sexes.

I plan to tell our students via the intercom on Wednesday, May 21, 2008 that 2008-2009 will be my last year as Principal of Irmo High School. I don’t plan to go into detail but simply plan to let them know that I will be graduating with the class of 2008-2009 next year. I don’t intend to make a big deal out of this. Let’s get it over quick so we can close this year and have a great 2008-2009 school year. I intend to work with you and our students to make 2008-2009 the best year in our illustrious history. It is very important to me that the club sponsor and all students who join this club receive Golden Rule treatment from everyone.

My decision to resign is a personal choice based on my professional beliefs and religious convictions. I have prayed about the decision for a period of time and I have a peace about it. I would ask that you respect my choice as I respect your choice to disagree with me on this issue. I bear no malice towards anyone involved. If the people involved at the district level had chosen not to allow the club to form I am sure the district would have been sued and the current legal opinions and precedents indicate that in all likelihood the district would have lost.

Sincerely, Eddie Walker

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer is a staff writer for QNotes. He previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015.

8 Replies to “SC Equality pushes for principal’s termination”

  1. A gay/STRAIGHT Alliance. Perhaps Principal Principle might take a logics class if he thinks that Straights simply meeting and talking with gays are going to somehow magically turn gay. I say such an illogical person who can’t even talk or be friends with someone without accepting every thought they have is not suited to be teaching anybody anything. Good riddance.

  2. I guess God told him to quit because a bigoted, prejudiced individual has no business leading young minds into adulthood.

  3. Well, since his personal views conflict with the law then it is for the best that he step down.
    He cited the “abstinence based” sex-ed curriculum which should also be looked at now that he is leaving. Perhaps basing sexual education on facts is a better plan, considering that the abstinence-based models have been shown to be utter failures.

  4. Just more proof that born-again “Christians” are nothing more than vile, bigoted hate-mongers. Such a person should never be allowed anywhere near children in the first place!

  5. Glad he resigned. Saves the School Board the trouble of firing him.

  6. I find it odd that as High School principle would confuse sexual orientation with sexual activity. One can be gay and remain abstinent, just as one can be straight and be abstinent at the same time.

    There is really no conflict between all of those concepts that the principle claims to support. To say that a club based on sexual orientation implies sexual activity demonstrate the principle’s complete incompetence, lack of understanding of issues relating to sex (and this is someone you’d want to teach your kids about sex?), and quite frankly stupidity in allowing his own religious beliefs and his personal prejudices to cloud “his professional beliefs”

  7. Although I disagree 100% with this principal’s religious and personal belief, I can’t help but to respect him a little for his actions.

    He came to the realization that he could not maintain his position of authority by holding the belief structure he has, even as flawed as most of us will think. I applaud the school board for informing him to allow the formation of the GASA, but I do give the principal credit to make a personal decision and not choose to stay and make life difficult on those who join.

    It appears that he took the decency to try to keep this under the radar, but unfortunately it has become a media item. He could have fought with the School Board in the media, which would have brought the homophobic right out to support him.

    Who knows, maybe after a year of continuing on as principal with the club being active, he may see the discrimination and hate that others will direct their way and being a religious person see the harm being inflicted and decide that he needs to stay to protect all the vulnerable.

  8. Principal Walker is a social/philosophical dinosaur and the asteroid has struck. Bye, Eddie.

    A club called a Gay/Straight Alliance doesn’t sound like a sex-focused club, it sounds like a social issue-centered club. “Alliance” doesn’t mean corporeal co-mingling, it means working together. These are probably kids who see how their society has been broken in two by bigotry and they’re unifying to fight against that. Good for them! Clubs that encourage awareness about social issues nurture good citizenship. I’m sure it will not be easy and I admire their courage. Their activism will be met with hatred from those students who share and practice Mr. Walker’s active, self-perpetuating form of ignorance.

    If the club was called the Alliance for Racial Harmony nobody would dare object, if it was called Handicapped and Able-bodied Students Working Together nobody would dare object, but homosexuals are one of the last acceptable pariahs, so we have all these homophobes posturing and pretending to have concerns about quality education and what’s best for society. Bull. Bigots are going extinct. Good riddance.

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