22 March 2013
By Heather Clark
Portland, Oregon – An Oregon high school teacher was escorted from the building by police this week over what is believed to be related to his continued opposition to Planned Parenthood’s presence in the classroom.
Bill Diss is a math and computer science teacher at Benson High School in Portland, and has taught at the school for 11 years. Diss has also become known in the school for his opposition to Planned Parenthood since 2007, when he first began organizing efforts during after-school hours to stop the furtherance of the abortion provider in the community.
“I certainly fight Planned Parenthood, which I certainly have a right to do,” he told reporters this week following the incident. “And that was all on the outside, until [last] year when they brought Planned Parenthood [into the school].”
According to reports, last year, Planned Parenthood of Columbia Williamette began promoting its Teen Outreach Program (TOP) at Benson High School where Diss is employed as a teacher. In September, two representatives from the organization showed up at Diss’ classroom as they were hoping to speak to students. However, he would not let the representatives enter and asked them to leave.
Following Diss’ refusal to allow the representatives into his classroom, the principal and vice principal of the school paid Diss a visit and temporarily removed him from the class. The next day, he was forced to sit in on a Planned Parenthood presentation.
“They were extremely aggressive in obtaining the children’s signatures by promising them all sorts of gifts and cash,” Diss said.
Later, Diss also took issue with TOP permission forms that were being sent home with some students that had his name on them. His attorney contacted Planned Parenthood and the school demanding that they retract statements on the form that appeared as if Diss approved of the program. They threatened a lawsuit, stating that Diss was being harassed for his beliefs about the organization.
Ever since, Diss says that the school has been sending him regular notes that question his teaching skills and methods. He has been required to attend numerous hearings, and was told two weeks ago that his teaching contract would not be renewed.
On Tuesday, administrators notified Diss that he was being placed on administrative leave “pending a recommendation to the superintendent that you be dismissed from your employment with Portland public schools for reasons that have been discussed with you.” He told reporters that he was given a few minutes to gather his belongings before he was escorted out by police and asked not to return.
One student told local television station KGW that at times students mocked Diss, a Roman Catholic, for his pro-life views.
“He doesn’t do it a lot, but students do make fun of him for … being against [abortion] and everything,” explained Ty’sha Harrell, a junior. “When he does talk about it, he does have … really good views and everything, but sometimes he goes too deep into it. He brings religion into it.”
The teacher is on paid leave, and he fears that he will be permanently fired. The school is not revealing much information at this time.
“We do not discuss the nature of personnel issues and actions out of respect for the individual,” representatives wrote in a statement this week after Diss was escorted from school. “But I can tell you that we respect the rights of all employees to their own political, religious, social and other beliefs and affiliations and expect all employees to conduct themselves professionally in their work, most especially with students.”
“[Apparently], it is much more important for the school to have Planned Parenthood at Benson than it is to have a teacher teach computer science and math,” Diss said.