GLOUCESTER, Mass. — Middle school teachers here are being trained to handle sensitive discussions after a seventh-grader says he was belittled for supporting President Donald Trump — an incident that landed the boy on “InfoWars,” the talk show hosted by Alex Jones.
“In a classroom setting, the teacher shouldn't be shaming one side for its legitimate viewpoint," Jackson Cody, 12, said in a message to the Gloucester Daily Times. "Know your First Amendment rights and stand up for them."
Cody’s family says the first incident happened as a teacher at O’Maley Innovation Middle School was asking students about whom they supported in the election and took umbrage when Cody answered Trump.
A letter sent by Marc Randazza, a lawyer hired by Cody’s family, said the teacher “engaged in behavior that would be classified at best as unprofessional. She began with ‘Really, Mr. Jackson, I thought I liked you.’ It only got worse after that.”
Neither the schools nor Cody’s family has identified the teacher.
Another incident took place in a science class on Oct. 2, according to Randazza’s letter. The teacher said she was "having a bad day and the only good thing that happened to her today was that Donald Trump was diagnosed with the coronavirus."
Students began to discuss politics, and Cody joined another student in discussing their support for Trump. The teacher asked the two to stop but allowed other students to continue their discussions.
Randazza called the event "constitutionally troubling.” He and Cody described the incident on the far-right talk show hosted by Trump supporter and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones last week.
Randazza told the local newspaper the family is “not suing anyone at this time” but instead wants an apology and “a commitment from the school system that this kind of conduct will not be repeated.”
"We do not want money, we do not want anyone fired, we only want this to stop,” Randazza wrote in his letter.
In a statement, School Superintendent Ben Lummis said he was “disappointed to hear about this interaction.”
The teacher in question called Cody's mother, explained what happened, and apologized for making him uncomfortable, Lummis said. The following day, the teacher apologized to Cody and the rest of the class for not respecting a student’s point of view.
“Every day in our schools we strive for tolerance, understanding different perspectives and being civil,” Lummis said.
Taylor Ann Bradford writes for the Gloucester Daily Times. She can be reached at email@example.com.