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Gay History – July 11, 1966: Twenty-Six Oklahoma City Teachers Forced to Resign For Being Gay

On July 11, 1966, Oklahoma County Attorney Curtis Harris revealed that 26 teachers and school administrators in Oklahoma City had been forced to resign following a six month investigation into “alleged homosexual activity.” Harris said that his office was being “pressured” by prominent citizens to cut back on his investigation, but said “It won’t work. The investigation will continue.” He did say though that his investigation of late had been hampered when his assistant, investigator Albert J. Hock, suffered a heart attack over the weekend.

Alex Higdon, Executive Assistant for Oklahoma City schools had a different set of figures, saying that as far as he knew only twelve had resigned, “but of course we may not have known about it when they resigned.” Higdon also said that the school board conducted its own investigations rather than work in tandem with the County Attorney. “If evidence substantiates the charges, the person is asked to resign,” he said.

It would be almost 20 years later before the 10th Circuit court would strike down Oklahoma law designed to punish state teachers who participated in “public homosexual conduct,  The trial court had attempted to save the law by applying it only to cases in which such conduct created “a material and substantial disruption,” but the circuit court did not go along stating the even though the Board of Education “has interests in regulating the speech of teachers that differ from its interests in regulating the speech of the general citizenry,” these interests extended only to cases in which “the expression results in a material or substantial interference or disruption in the normal activities of the school.

A divided Supreme Court (Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. did not participate in the decision) affirmed the decision of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a one-sentence per curiam opinion.

[Source: UPI. “26 Resign in Teacher Deviate Quiz.” The Washington Post (July 12, 1966)

via Box Turtle Bulletin

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is one of America's best known LGBT historians, He is also a a accredited journalist and the owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced on such notable media venues as BBC News, CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The Daily Wall Street Journal, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story. Back2Stonewall has been recently added to the Library of Congress' LGBTQ+ Studies Web Archive. Mr. Kohler is available for comment, interviews and lectures on LGBT History. Contact: Will@Back2Stonewall.com

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