UPDATED: GA Teacher FIRED Over Gay Film

20 Oct

Dave Dixon in Rehearsal (Haralson County High School Website)

Dave Dixon is the Drama teacher at Haralson County High School in     Tallapoosa, GA. and has been for four years. In those four years, Mr. Dixon knows that he’s personally responsible for stopping at least three kids from taking their own lives and at least a dozen more who’ve stayed in school because of him. On top of that, he has led the school to many victories in theatre competition (Think Sue Sylvester for the Drama Club set).

Teaching tolerance to his students has always been a high priority for Dixon, having grown up in theatre and having lost several friends to AIDS in the 80s and 90s – and with the current state of things he has tried to step-up the anti-bullying education in his own High School.

Last week, Dixon showed a clip from an award-winning film featuring his friend, openly-gay actor Bruce Hart. The film -“The Reckoning” is about a gay man kidnapped and tortured into revealing information about the gay community. Admittedly, some of the dialogue in the short clip on Hart’s demo reel might be a bit shocking, but according to Dixon “it’s nothing these kids don’t hear or say everyday.” Dixon believes if the film was about heterosexuals using similar language, he would not be attending a hearing this week over his termination.

Dixon told Talk About Equality:

“During this time of so many kids hurting themselves over bullying, I thought it would be a good subject.  I was wrong.  I teach my students about the human condition in my theater classes, and to play a part means to understand the character.  Through that understanding, I hope my students will become more tolerant of all types of people, regardless of background, race, orientation or behavior.”

Charles Needham, the principal of the High School said that his school has “no

Principal Charles Needham (Haralson County High School website)

more incidents of bullying than any other high school” and doesn’t personally know of any students in his school that are gay. When asked if there was any club or alliance in place for LGBT students, Mr. Needham referred to the “Partners Club,” which from a quick hearing of the club description, appeared to be focused primarily on students with disabilities and/or different “social choices.” Nothing in the club’s description mentioned LGBT students in particular. He refused to comment on Mr. Dixon’s pending termination hearing.

No matter what the outcome of Mr. Dixon’s case, it seems Haralson County High School has some work to do when it comes to being a comfortable place for LGBT students.


UPDATE: We understand that Mr. Dixon was terminated last night. Tonight, Dixon spoke to Talk About Equality:

“I was fired for what they called an ongoing problem of insubordination. They claimed I didn’t follow the rules. Although I can’t remember a specific rule they told me I didn’t follow. Now they state that no teacher can show any film, or film clip, until it has been approved by a supervisor. That means if I teacher finds a teachable moment, a chance to make a difference, but it is not in the lesson plan, then they cannot do it. We are appealing. A lot of the case was about the article in Teaching Tolerance. They claim I have no right to speak my opinion about the school or the system.”

We wish Mr. Dixon luck in his appeal. Any teacher interested in educating about diversity in a community that so desperately needs it, deserves our support.

60 Responses to “UPDATED: GA Teacher FIRED Over Gay Film”

  1. R L Pete Housman October 20, 2010 at 7:29 pm #

    Many issues presented here. A Drama teacher presenting the work of a personal friend who is a professional working actor…

    A timely topic about bullying for a self selecting target population….This was presented to his drama classes not to the Freshman earth science class.

    – The Principal commenting that His school did not have anymore incidents of bullying than any other High School AND THAT HE DID NOT Personally know of any Gay students. Perhaps he should get out of his office an sit in on a few classes- possibly and art or music or drama class ( Although he could just as easily attend a football practice or a chemistry class.)

    – And finally a personal observation by Dave Dixon of his personal intervention to prevent several threatened suicides and managed to convince kids to stay in school.

    Perhaps he needs written up, perhaps he needs a lecture on curricula selection- but to terminate for cause! He should be awarded a National Teacher of the Year award….

    • yep October 28, 2010 at 3:03 am #

      Good observations on all counts. Yes, there are obviously gay students at the high school; yes, the film is with the times and needs of kids; yes, Mr. Dixon is absolutely an egotistical maniac who does good things, but often the way in which he toots his own horn is irritating (“I have personally prevented three suicides, blah blah), and definitely needs to be trained on being a classroom teacher if that is the profession he chooses.

      I think the problem here is that Mr. Dixon often sees himself as the savior of our poor, rural kids- he does without thinking first as a professional. Many of us here support his intention of preventing bullying against gay students, BUT WE DO NOT SUPPORT HIS REPEATED DISRESPECT TO PARENTS RIGHTS AND CULTURAL ENVIRONMENT.

      If he wants to show the movie clip- GREAT- go through the process other teachers must do to show controversial content. He touched many kids lives here, but showed poor judgement and social awareness. All around a sad situation.

      • Step October 29, 2010 at 4:27 am #

        thank you some one else sees through this sham in the name of education

    • Step October 29, 2010 at 4:25 am #

      he needs to be sacked from his job…his feelings are obviously more toward gay life then teaching kids drama because he only teaches these kids his propoganda. Not the type of teacher I would like teaching my kids….btw this article so bias as it is tells of what he has achieved but it goes on only to protect him…let the judge decide here I would never employ him again

      • Little Kiwi November 9, 2010 at 6:16 pm #

        What Propaganda? That anti-gay bigotry and intolerance are wrong?

        Speaking of ‘bias’, your comments reek of it.

        Therefore, you’re a trolling idiot and not worth thinking about.

    • Tammy November 14, 2010 at 9:38 pm #

      As a mother, I would LOVE to have a teacher like Mr. Dixon for my teenage son.

      In times like these, tolerance for others should be taught at home, as well as in the schools.

      Everyone thinks bullying is okay, it ISN’T!

      What is it going to take for people to realize that? Another Columbine?

      Come on people wake up. We all could be more compassionate to our fellow human beings. Treat others, as you would want to be treated. Such a simple concept.

  2. dadsprimalscream October 20, 2010 at 11:57 pm #

    Back in the early 80’s when I attended High School at a place and time that NOBODY would have dared be out, I knew that my favorite teacher and one of the school counselors were in a relationship and that they were *gasp* lesbians. In fact, I think everyone knew or at least suspected. Did the students talk about it? Hell yeah. But would we have ever told our parents? Hell no! All I knew is that they were the two coolest adults who cared passionately about their jobs and took a great interest in ME.

    My point is that Homosexuality is already talked about in schools. When parents and administrators try to limit or regulate the conversation their excuse is usually that they want to be the ones to pass on their own values. But the truth is they really don’t talk about it with their kids. During my Mormon upbringing, it was mostly avoided, ignored or only approached in serious hushed tones. Meanwhile, these 2 lesbians were showing me what quality of people they were… They won in the end.

  3. Tolerant Tim October 21, 2010 at 4:53 pm #

    People–while you’re at it–work on Islam’s tolerance of gays as they further their agenda in your country. They have zero tolerance for gay in theirs–and you need to consider it now. But we are so PC, right? Shouldn’t we be tolerant of their intolerance to gays?

    • jamiemcgonnigal October 21, 2010 at 4:58 pm #

      Not quite sure what this has to do with a teacher in Georgia being fired after showing a gay film to his class, but I digress…

      People do speak out about intolerance in Islam. However in the US, considering Christians make up more than 76% of Americans and Islam represents 2-3%, it seems like talking to the Christians around here may be able to bring a wider audience.

    • Step October 29, 2010 at 4:32 am #

      I was abused by a gay on a train when I was 12 years old, such a nice man and talked very ladylike, I wondered why he spoke like a girl when he was a man, I will never forgive him or the fact that gay men have the need to be effeminate.

      • Little Kiwi November 9, 2010 at 6:17 pm #

        I’m sorry that you never knew who your biological father is and that you never completed highschool.

        Even worse, I’m sorry that your obsession with gay people leads you to logging onto an LGBT page to post pathetic comments.

        You’ll be happy to know that we’re raising funds to buy you a pair of balls.


  4. Terry Johnson October 21, 2010 at 5:08 pm #

    Such actions by a school district in my life-long residence is enough to make me ashamed of being a resident. I wish there had been more teachers like this one when I was in school. This principle should be the only person out of a job.

  5. H.C Student October 21, 2010 at 6:25 pm #

    I am a sophomore at Haralson County High School. While I have never attended one of Mr. Dixon’s classes I can personally say that he is one of the greatest teachers I have ever known. While most teachers at the school only care about their income, he cares greatly about his students, job, and everything else around him. I am deeply hurt that he is being suspended.

    • jamiemcgonnigal October 21, 2010 at 6:37 pm #

      Thanks so much for your comment – please pass this post around to your fellow students and encourage them to comment as well.

  6. HCHS student October 21, 2010 at 10:29 pm #

    I am also a student at HCHS and am taking my second drama class. Mr.Dixon is a wonderful person who has taught so many students how to be the best version of themselves and to find a place they feel comfortable. You’ll find very few students at the school who will disagree with that. However, I also think Mr. Needham is a good principle and although he could make more effort to get the know the student body, he makes fair decisions for the school. It was not only his choice to place Mr.Dixon on administrative leave. This is the decision of the school board which has made many poor decisions for the school lately in my opinion. But no matter who’s choice it was, our world as a whole needs to learn to accept others as they are. As far as the the offensiveness of the video, I hear worse the second I walk into the halls of school. I understood the reason he was showing us the clip was to show us not only to accept other but also that his gay friend obviously appealed to a gay audience and so if there is a group we know we work well for then applying that would help us get work in acting if that was one of our ambitions. I can also say that I have seen films just as bad in other classes such as 300(violence), Apocalypto (violence), and Big Fish (cursing). I do feel that if the video was not on the subject of homosexuality this would not have happened. Since the case stand as it now does though, all I can do is pray that my favorite teacher’s job is spared.

  7. H.C Student October 21, 2010 at 11:55 pm #

    petition to help keep his job? think it will work?

  8. HCHS student October 23, 2010 at 1:52 am #

    No. I don’t. I’ve heard of one going around and I believe that if anything that will hurt Mr.Dixon’s chances of keeping his job. The best way to help is to show the school board just what his has taught us through our art and attitudes.

  9. Angel October 27, 2010 at 12:25 am #

    i took 3 of mr dixon’s classes, he was and is still my favorite teacher, he taught me alot and he kept me sane when alot was going on in my life. he kept me from taking my own life. he cares deeply about all his students, his students can confide confadentally in him. Just because some people are against gays doesnt make mr dixon a bad teacher. all people should be treated equally and thats what mr dixon is getting at. i believe it’s wrong for them to suspend mr dixon when he keeps most of the chaos out of that school.

  10. Hannah October 27, 2010 at 12:50 am #

    I can’t believe people from Haralson County High School would do that to Mr. Needham. Put him in a situation such as that. He has never done anything wrong. Petition all you want; rules are rules. It wasn’t that the video was about homosexuals, it was inappropriate. From what i hear, it had innappropriate language and nothing to do with the class. If it wasn’t this particular teacher, none of you would be pitching such a fit. Not to mention his previous article that he decided to get published that made Haralson County look bad. You don’t push buttons or do anything that could be questioned when you are already on the board’s bad side because of stuff you said that got published. Dixon will still be around. He can still do drama within the community. Y’all act like he is going away forever; he isn’t.

    • HC Graduate October 27, 2010 at 1:30 am #

      Yeah I definitely agree here. It is not about the fact that the video was about being homosexual. It is the explicit nature of the video, and the way the situation was handled afterwards. This should be about the kids, not the teachers.

      • Magic October 27, 2010 at 1:42 am #

        Actually one of the citations he has received was for promoting a homosexual life style. While I don’t agree with the condemning of Mr. Needham, the facts stated are true. And no Hannah, he will be gone, we will move away, there will not be the Dixons in Haralson anymore.

      • HC Graduate October 27, 2010 at 1:59 am #

        Here is what I know…. high school is a more closed-minded environment IN GENERAL due to parental concerns. Look, I don’t have a problem with it but if a parent says, “Hey, don’t show my kid a movie about being homosexual,” then you just don’t in a high school setting. It’s that simple. Teachers play a balancing act. Do some get away with showing a few things they probably shouldn’t? You bet. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t take just that once to seriously upset everything. I agree that it is doing nothing to prepare students for the society of today. But if parents are concerned, so should be the public school board.

      • Yet Another HC Graduate October 28, 2010 at 1:36 pm #

        I agree that the issue with the video isn’t that it was about being homosexual. If I thought that Mr. Dixon might lose his job for teaching kids that it’s okay to be gay, I would be picketing the high school. As it is, I don’t believe for one second that is the root of the issue and I will not believe it until someone presents me with a piece of paper signed by Mr. Needham and the board members saying it is. Hannah pretty much hit the nail on the head–Mr. Dixon has made several glaring errors in judgement during his time at HCHS and I guess the explicit nature of the video was the final straw.

  11. HCHS Student October 27, 2010 at 1:02 am #

    I am a student at HCHS. I’ve known Mr.Dixon for 4 years now.The man is just real. He isn’t fake, he doesn’t portray life as something its not. He helps students create a sacred environment in his classroom. I remember the first time I was in his class he told me , “Leave everything in your day at the door when you walk in, this is a new part of your day.I want this to be your safe haven.” And, it is. I feel very comfortable around Mr.Dixon he treats me like i’m one of his very own. He has changed my life and he changes the lives of kids everyday.

  12. GingerTyger October 27, 2010 at 1:27 am #

    I have taken Dixon’s classes. Been in every show he’s produced. If I wasn’t in it, I helped. I’m one of his students that has been here since he moved here.

    He didn’t show the entire movie. It did have stuff that wouldn’t be appropriate for schools, and although the movie clip (after 10 seconds or so he turned it ff and apologized for the words it said, ‘cock’ and ‘anal’. Words I’ve heard third graders say.

    • HC Graduate October 27, 2010 at 1:32 am #

      It doesn’t matter who you have heard say it, honestly. If it bothered someone, then it is a teacher’s obligation not to show it without parental consent. It’s just how things run, and in a college that would be fine but this is a high school and there are boundaries you don’t cross without the parents’ consent.

  13. HC Graduate October 27, 2010 at 1:28 am #

    Hello all. Would just like to say that I love Dixon to death. I thought he was a great teacher when I went to HCHS, and definitely helped our small town get out of their comfort zone. But… if the video had explicit material or language then he should have had a note signed by the parents. This isn’t college and while I am all for being who you are, high school teens are still in the hands of their guardians. If the video even made one set of guardians uncomfortable, it is their choice in what their children watch and that needs to be noted.

  14. Teacher at HCH October 27, 2010 at 1:53 am #

    I think Mr. Dixon has done a great job with our drama department, but let the parents decide what their kids watch. Our students say and do a lot of things that are innappropriate and as teachers, we need to be better role models. Just because my students talk trash and watch porn doesn’t make it ok for me to show such in my classroom.
    Mr. Needham is a good man and a good principal. It is time for Mr. Dixon to take responsibility for his own actions. I do not want him to lose his job, but he doesn’t need to be in a classroom until he can realize what he did was wrong.

    • HC Graduate October 27, 2010 at 2:55 am #

      I agree. This is not an issue of homosexuality. I saw the video, and I honestly saw no relevance to anything that should be shown in school. That is like saying we should show Pan’s Labyrinth to show the destruction of dictator rule. Some lines should not be crossed in a public school.

    • Magic October 27, 2010 at 3:16 am #

      He understand that he should have preview the clip before showing it but the way he is being treated you’d think that he had done this ever month or molested a student.

    • CHris October 31, 2010 at 11:24 pm #

      What was so wrong? SO he showed a clip to high school students that used language that I know they know and maybe use. You say he doesn’t belong in the classroom. I think it is a perfect place for him. Haralson County needs more open minded teachers like him.

  15. JessiFaith October 27, 2010 at 2:25 am #

    I just want to tell the site itself thank you so much for posting this article in a neutral perspective. Mr. Dixon IS and ALWAYS will be a wonderful teacher. Hannah, I can say that I’m sure if it was another teacher, Mr. Dixon or someone from his class would defend them. I would. He’s been there for his students through thick and thin. I consider him my family. Yes. Somethings he says just aren’t okay to say for the county’s opinion, but at least he had the strength to say it. If the Dixon’s do leave, it’ll be a horrible loss, but it’ll be up to the students and the people he influenced to carry on his teachings. He’s just doing what he BELIEVES is right. That’s how heroes are made. He is a hero. He saved me from myself. As cliche as it sounds, he truly did by giving me a way to be able to express myself when I couldn’t. There are SO many teenagers in Haralson County that don’t get to be themselves because of fear of rejection. Mr. Dixon gave us the ability to be ourselves which is something worth appraisal.

  16. Chelsea October 27, 2010 at 2:29 am #

    I lived in Haralson County for the majority of my life. I was never involved in a drama program because the Haralson County community didn’t offer one. When Mr. Dixon moved to the area, he brought with him a new set of ideas that many had not been exposed to before. That’s what scares people. People don’t want to deal with things that make them uncomfortable; and they certainly don’t want their children asking questions they don’t know how to answer. Those ‘kids’ that he’s supposedly corrupting with his video about homosexuality with some ‘bad’ language? They know gay people, and they’ve heard ‘bad’ language. I guarantee it. At the age of sixteen, you can decide whether you’re ready to have sex or not. It’s legal. In my opinion, that makes you an adult. If you’re enough of a big kid to handle the possibilities of pregnancy and disease, you’re old enough to see a ‘controversial’ video.

    • HC Graduate October 27, 2010 at 2:52 am #

      But our opinions don’t matter here. Yes, if that’s the way the society believes then the age of minors should be lowered. But there is no argument for what was shown since minors are involved. I’m not saying he should lose his job, but parents send their kids to public schools with certain expectations and when those are not met, they have a right to take a stand too.

  17. Chelsea October 27, 2010 at 2:35 am #

    And another thing…it should be about what the students learn in their subject area. As far as learning about drama, Mr. Dixon knows what he’s doing. If the students are experiencing a safe environment to express their feelings through the dramatic arts, why must others destroy it? I was beginning to have some hope for the community, believing they were finding a way in which to break out of the sheltered lifestyle…

  18. Patrick (class 07) October 27, 2010 at 2:43 am #

    I do not know Dixon off the top of my head… I do not know how well he helped, or how bad he came off as against the grain. If people loved him, there was a reason… One cannot, however, hear one or even one and a half parts of the story. Let me tell you a few things that I know about Mr. Needham. Keeping people from killing themselves is wonderfull… but do not think for a second that Charles Needham would not take as much time as needed to do the same.

    In Sept. of 05, I decided it was time to end it over some things that happend in my family. Needham stopped me in the hall, and after finnaly figuring out what I was up to… pulled me into his office, and talked until I was ok again. if not for him, I can honestly say I wouldn’t be here today.

    Tolerance is good, but are you as bold as to say that Charles Needham is a biggot? or that he dosen’t care as he should? A Biggot would not stop a fight that started over somthing like race, and yet I saw Needham on several occasions receive a wallop trying to break such fights up…

    For whoever started this… Boo on you. A man cannot do but just so much.. a leader cannot micro manage the people put in charge of the people they lead. He should take time out of his office and meet people, but knowing him… he’s too busy trying to keep the school afloat for (Dare I say it,) arrogant baffoons such as yourself.

    I am sorry for any feelings hurt, but to be honest, I must say.. if you do not like it… Good.

  19. JessiFaith October 27, 2010 at 2:48 am #

    Chelsea, thank you. It’s nice to know people still hope for change in the county. It’s good to know there are people who don’t know him who still think he’s doing a good thing. Your opinion is so appreciated right now i could cry

  20. Patrick (class 07) October 27, 2010 at 2:48 am #

    JessiFaith, I want to add, that I really like your comment, and nothing i said is meant to represent you or any other person who takes this discussion as they should… As my Grandpa used to say, “Opinions are like butts, everyone has one… and sometimes people should sit on theirs.

  21. JessiFaith October 27, 2010 at 2:57 am #

    I appreciate that dearl Patrick. I always think it’s best to take things from a neutral perspective unless you have a personal connection to one of the sides. But it’s always best to speak what you know is true. I know Mr Needham and he also encouraged me to be who i truly am. Mr. Dixon just allowed me the outlet to do so. Both men are wonderful people and things just need to be veiwed from both perspectives and try to not say things out of hate. 🙂

  22. Jay Says October 27, 2010 at 2:59 am #

    The part of this I found most enjoyable was reading through the comments. Kudos to the teachers at this school as it seems your students and former students have great grammar skills (particularly for Internet comments) and engage in wonderfully civil dialogue. You all must be doing something right.

  23. Magic October 27, 2010 at 3:20 am #

    I honestly believe people are watching the wrong video.

    This is the clip that was shown, it was cut off at 0:41, due to excessive language(he had not previewed it prior and would not have shown it had he known about said language.) He was also unaware that youtube allows such language without a content filter.

  24. Patrick (class 07) October 27, 2010 at 3:37 am #

    @ Jess, Indeed it is true… Like I said, with as many people who love Mr. Dixon, he must be a good man, and personally I believe that it should be permitted to show a picture like that. Heck, I cant remembe which, but one of my classes showed pulp fiction one year. The Truth of the matter, though, is that its not to throw blame or hate towards someone else.. accept that even the most asinine rules are to be followed.

  25. JessiFaith October 27, 2010 at 3:47 am #

    I’ve seen SO much worse in other classes. But I’m just going to say this because I haven’t witnessed this in forever, but I LOVE how everyone is actually talking about this instead of fighting about it. I’m sick of seeing all these hate comments on other sites but here everyone is being mature about this.

  26. frakier October 27, 2010 at 3:55 pm #

    There may be a little more to the issue.


    He seemed to be trying for the suspension.

    • jamiemcgonnigal October 27, 2010 at 4:05 pm #

      Doing an interview with a blog and relaying your opinions about an area in which you work – and your challenges within, is hardly “trying for suspension.”

      As I understand it, having spoken to both Mr. Dixon and Mr. Needham, there is some serious need for a little multiculturalism and a little more tolerance and education when it comes to minorities – that much is clear.

      • frakier October 27, 2010 at 4:46 pm #

        I was just pointing out that when you are trying to reach out to people, maybe you should not slap them first.

        He’s upset that so many African-American kids are in the band, but African-American students seem reluctant to sign up, no matter how aggressively Dixon recruits them.

        I have two nieces and one nephew that are African-American, the oldest girl and boy would probably not be interested in the theater/drama club, now if he can wait about 10 years the youngest will love it, she dances all the time, even with only the music in her own head. And did I mention she sings, all the time, I’m told she even sings in her sleep.

        I graduated from HC with a couple of guys who did not hide who they were in 1988, no one thought much of it.

        I know things change and have changed, it just seems this guy came down south and he has some kind of problem with the area and his choice.

        The class warfare between Bremen and HC has less to do with the more affluent “city” kids in nearby Bremen, which is a very small town as well. And more to do with Bremen and Haralson football, for the longest time Bremen was one of the few teams HC played regularly. Saying Bremen is more affluent is like comparing Apples to Apples, very little difference.

        If i moved to Chicago or somewhere similar and complain about how they live, because they do not live like I do, that would be a little dumb on my part right.

        If I go into a dinner in Chicago: “What no grits, are you guys stupid.” and the cook comes out and wipes the floor with me, yep I asked for it.

  27. barnsley October 27, 2010 at 6:51 pm #

    As a parent I would just like to say Mr Dixon did wonders with my child. My child has struggled all her school life with math and hates it, theres nothing worse if you have to take a class that you struggle in to start with. But as luck happen she had Mr Dixons class last year were he made her feel important and that she could do something in school even though she still isnt perfect at math last year seem to be the first year she had some confidence because someone made her notice she is good at some thing and it made her want to go to school so thank you Mr Dixon for that We need teachers that make our children feel important and they want to go to school.

  28. KRA October 27, 2010 at 7:40 pm #

    I am very proud of the students coming on here and making their statements about this situation. Several of us on here know Mr. Dixon personally. I was not one of his students or a student at HCHS, but I do know Mr. Dixon and many of his students personally. I do know of many… MANY of his students that he has helped, given a hand to, given shelter to, and saved.

    This man has had a huge positive effect on many of his students’ lives. This situation now, which is being viewed as so negative, is going to have huge consequences one way or another here. Clearly, Dixon did not mean any harm or to cause such intense ruckus by showing this 41 seconds of film that, in totality, says “sex”, “anal”, and “cock”. I know for a fact that entire movies with far more questionable content and language have been shown in other classes.

    I do believe that terminating Dixon would be a very harsh course of action here. Clearly, this man has done far more good to outweigh this situation. This is a man that believes in tolerance and acceptance of everyone, in despite of race, religion, or sexual orientation…why is that so bad? This situation has been and will be in my prayers.

    And also @ “Hannah”, it would be nice to think that in a perfect world, one could continue doing what they loved where they loved with the people they loved. But alas, in the real world, we have to make money to live. Doing theater projects in the community does not pay. Without the income that Dixon was making at the school, how is the family going to be able to keep on living there? He will indeed, as “Magic” said, have to look for work elsewhere, which will mean that he and the Dixon family WILL be moving away from Haralson County. If there’s no job for him in Haralson County, he will not be able to continue his theater ministry there. This is the unfortunate truth.

    Again, I pray that eyes and hearts are opened and the goodness that Dixon is will be seen.

    • Earl November 2, 2010 at 4:00 am #

      Also need to note that many times the other movies you spoke of are rated R and shown with out a parent note. I know my kid saw “Hangover” in ROTC

  29. HC Graduate October 27, 2010 at 10:14 pm #

    I was openly gay in that school for over three years and had no problem whatsoever with the faculty and staff and very little with fellow students. Every case of antigay bullying was immediately addressed by the administration, and Mr. Needham was a part of that administration.

    I have seen the video and whether students hear that language every day or not, a teacher cannot show it without parental consent. If other teachers are showing videos with the same or worse, report them, but you cannot use that to defend the fact that Mr. Dixon broke the rules.

    Mr. Needham is no villain, and making him out to be one won’t help Mr. Dixon, it may just hurt him.

  30. Yet Another HC Graduate October 28, 2010 at 4:12 am #

    I really feel the need to comment here and agree with the people who are standing up for Mr. Needham. He is a good, caring man/administrator, and the fact that he does not personally know of any gay students does not make him a homophobe. He is the principal of a school with something like 1000 students, and unless there is an issue directly involving a student’s sexuality, there would be no reason for Mr. Needham to know about it.

    As for the video that Mr. Dixon showed, I don’t believe that the issue here is that he or it “promotes the gay lifestyle”. The issue is that he did not think to preview the video and wound up exposing students to inappropriate language. Yes, students say things every day that are worse than what the characters in the film say, but that does not make it okay for a teacher to show a video with such ‘adult’ content without prior approval or previewing it himself. I did have classes in high school that showed films with ‘adult’ content, but all of the films were either approved by an administrator or the teacher sent home a permission slip.

    I agree with Hannah that Mr. Dixon’s real mistake was not showing the film in general, but showing it during a time when he was already in hot water over the unflattering article. I’m willing to believe that anything Mr. Dixon has done wrong has been a mistake, but after he had inadvertently crossed a line(s) he should have been more careful. Whether or not he deserves to lose his job is for someone who has a better grasp of the situation than I to decide.

    And a final note- I watched the video and was more confused than anything. Putting the inappropriate language and dialogue aside, if Mr. Dixon wanted to show a video promoting tolerance towards the LGBT community, he could have found something that made much more sense.

  31. JustAGuy October 28, 2010 at 11:31 am #

    These are high school kids, they aren’t little children. It is crazy that we make a big deal about high school kids seeing hearing bad language when they hear it at school. Also, PG-13 movies often have bad language and they can go to the movie theater and watch those movies without having parents permission. Let’s stop treating high school kids like they are in middle school.

  32. HCHSGrad October 28, 2010 at 7:45 pm #

    As a gay student who graduated from HCHS, I can say that Mr. Needham is terribly blind if he doesn’t know about all the gay kids at that school. Of course, most of us don’t scream it from the rooftops. That kind of stuff will get you seriously hurt in that county. I had Mr. Needham as a teacher before he was an administrator, and he’s a fair guy. I wouldn’t have wanted the film shown to my kid either, not because it’s gay obviously, but because it really has no place in a high school classroom. He might be friends with the guy, but that doesn’t mean he gets to show the clip, especially if he didn’t preview it to check the content. I remember my senior year in MEM’s class we got in trouble for Monty Python and the Holy Grail, so I can’t even imagine how this film would be acceptable. I’ve heard he’s a great teacher, so maybe some kind of disciplinary warning would be appropriate, but not getting rid of him.

  33. Realist October 29, 2010 at 7:25 pm #

    I think its time for people in small town america to stop living under a rock!

    • frakier November 2, 2010 at 1:37 am #

      Ok, so in a small town…
      …they turn the lights off and roll the streets up at 9’oclock at night.
      …More people than you would like knows more about you than you would like.
      …The rumor mill moves faster than the Internet.
      That said I prefer a small town over, a small city or larger, if I did not I would move to a big city.
      We are not living under a rock, we do however resent people who move from the big city and then try to turn our small town info the big city. In a small town things move a little slower and people prefer it that way, they prefer to have a say in what their children are taught and what they are exposed too.
      Many children move to bigger cities when they graduate, some just to get better jobs or to get out of the small town, many move back to the same small town as they get older and have children themselves because they want their children to grow up in what they see as a better environment.
      So if you feel like the town you are in is living under a rock, move to a bigger city, see how you like it, we will miss you or not as time moves on and you should be happier as well.

  34. Little Kiwi November 9, 2010 at 6:23 pm #

    Anyone that thinks that this teacher showed his students anything containing content that was REMOTELY shocking to them needs to wake up and realize that this is not 1950.

    There isn’t a teenager in America that hasn’t seen “Two Girls One Cup”, and nothing in this video comes close to the explicitness of speech that teens hear, repeat, and are aware of on a daily basis.

    And what about context? Are people unable to pick up on nuance? Why freak out about content in a film when it makes utter sense when in dramatic context, and in the context of WHY you’re watching it in class.

    I had a teacher, more than a decade ago, who got in trouble for showing us the film “The Breakfast Club” – because it’s R-rated for “profanity”.

    right. because we’d never heard the word FUCK before, eh?
    context. context. context.


    “And these children that you spit on, as they try to change their worlds, are immune to your consulations; they’re quite aware of what they’re going through”
    -David Bowie

  35. David Dixon August 17, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    I wish to thank everyone for their comments. Rules, and their application, should be as equal as possible across the board. They were not. I am moving on and although the Dixon’s will have a continual presence in Haralson, I will not be with them. Mistakes were made by me, mostly in that I did not preview the movie and I did not hold my tongue. I tend to say what I think.

    May many blessings fall upon Haralson county. I love so many of you!



  1. Ray Boltz to Perform at Soulforce Symposim, Equality Ride Stops, From ‘Secret Life’ to Public Service, Allen West on Gays in Military Barracks “Tumultous Things Happen”, and more… » DailyQueerNews.com - October 27, 2010

    […] GA Teacher Suspended Over Gay Film. Read more  […]

  2. Georgia Teacher Fired for Trying to Stop Anti-Gay Violence | GayLGBT.com - November 9, 2010

    […] Dixon’s story goes something like this. In October 2010, Dixon showed an anti-bullying video in his classroom that dealt with the subject of harassment based on sexual orientation. That video, The Reckoning, is a film from 2007 about a gay man who is targeted because of his sexual orientation and gay bashed. There was some choice language in the film, but according to Dixon, it was nothing that his students hadn’t already heard.  Besides, Dixon said, other movies with language have been shown in classrooms where the characters are heterosexual. (UPDATE: Dixon says in this article that he showed the first 42 seconds of the film, before realizing that it was not edited for language or violence. He immediately shut the film off, but kept a conversation about anti-gay bullying going.) […]

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