Students are speaking out against a teacher who allegedly used a debate forum in her class to air extreme homophobic, transphobic, misogynistic and racist views.
Kim Johnson, a teacher at Morton High School in Illinois, is accused of using her ‘American Problems’ class as a platform to make shocking comments on topics including race and same-sex marriage.
The teacher would routinely play devil’s advocate on controversial issues, students say, creating an environment for her and others to “freely express hostility” in the classroom.
“I think that she is exacting and hateful. I don’t think there are any words [that] can quite accurately describe the amount of damage she has done as an educator,” former student Maya Phan told local news station WMBD.
“She told me that she would be OK with me being stopped in an airport for no reason, just because of the way that I looked. She proceeded to ask me if I was gay in front of the entire class. She warned a boy to be careful at a college party ‘because girls like to cry rape’.”
Teacher allegedly said gay people were ‘unwanted in the womb’
Phan is one of three students to make a formal complaint against Johnson. The accusations span more than a decade.
“Kim Johnson shared with our class that she thought being gay was a choice,” recalled one former student, Andrew Irwin, who was taught by Johnson in 2009.
“It was at that time that it became clear to me that there wasn’t going to be a lot of productive learning going on in that classroom. She was incapable, from what I could tell, of separating her responsibilities as an educator with her religious beliefs.”
“I remember comments being made like, if you were gay that was because you were unwanted in your parents’ womb,” another anonymous graduate said. “Every time I left the classroom I was shaking and nervous.”
Johnson no longer teaches the American Problems class but is still employed at Morton High School as a part-time French teacher. She is currently being investigated by Morton School District, WMBD learned.
“We are aware of the allegations which are currently under investigation,” confirmed superintendent Jeff Hill.
“Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation and the fact that this involves a matter involving both student and employee privacy, we cannot provide further comment.”
In a meeting with students and parents on 13 August, he added: “As a school district and as an employer, our employees have rights as well, and so we have to do our due diligence as we work through this process.”
PinkNews reached out to Kim Johnson via her employer for comment.
Parents and students protest outside Morton High School
Tensions escalated further on Thursday (19 August) as parents, students, and community members gathered to protest outside Morton High School, advocating for more diversity in the school district.
Several held signs demanding “Remove Kim Johnson,” while others condemned a school board member who made a transphobic comment underneath a Facebook post encouraging people to ignore the state’s mask mandate.
“I don’t see how they can’t preach kids to stop bullying when they are the bully on the school board,” one student, Josie Kneller, told WMBD.
Responding to the protest, superintendent Hill said in a statement: “Morton District 709 does not and will not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind.
“While individual board members, administrators and employees do have First Amendment rights to make statements on their own behalf, the position of the school district is only communicated through the Superintendent or Board President.”
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