PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Saying the words “God bless you” apparently now can be construed as harassment. Susan Creamer, a teacher at Merritt Brown Middle School in Panama City, Fla., complained on Facebook about her students saying the phrase.
Her comments were made on the Atheists of Bay County Facebook page.
“There is a bevy of boys in one of my classes (middle school) who are taking turns either inviting me to their church or leaving (anonymously) flyers inviting me to church events. Today, I found one on the A/V cart I use for a podium,” she wrote, according to the Northwest Florida Daily Times.
“Every time any child sneezes, they loudly say ‘God bless you!’ and look in my direction. I have complained twice to my principal – one last month and once today,” she wrote. “She has spoken privately to one or two of the little cretins, but it seems to do NO GOOD.
“I am feeling bullied and harassed. It has become intolerable,” Creamer concluded. “I don’t feel like talking with the parents will stop the inappropriate behaviors because, for all I know, the parents are encouraging them. Any suggestions?”
School authorities were concerned about Creamer’s description of students as “little cretins.” Dictionary.com describes a cretin as a “a stupid, obtuse, or mentally defective person.” School policy bars teachers from criticizing students, even if it is on a social media page.
At least one parent blamed Creamer herself for the situation.
“First and foremost she should not be discussing her religious preferences (or lack thereof) with any of these students,” Crystal Mosley wrote in a letter to the school superintendent. “Had she not been proudly boasting of her atheism these children would not know of her personal beliefs and I would not be addressing this situation.”
Jeromy Henderson, a member of the Atheists of Bay County Facebook page, defended Creamer.
“It was never meant for public consumption,” he told the newspaper. “She was just looking for advice from the group on how to deal with students she felt were harassing her. Yes, her terminology was off-putting, but she was just looking for advice about how to deal with them.”
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