The unidentified teacher has been fired over her words, which were detailed in a video shared on social media by one of the boy’s fathers, “Dancing With the Stars” alumnus Louis van Amstel. The staffing company that employed her said in an emailed statement that it had “made the decision to end the employee’s relationship with Kelly Services” after conducting an investigation.
The story received widespread attention. In a video uploaded to Instagram on Monday, van Amstel said he had been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, adding, “Josh and I and our son, we did not expect how many reactions we would get.”
An Amsterdam-born former dance coach on “Dancing With the Stars” who now serves as a judge in a Netherlands version of the show, van Amstel has lived with his husband in Utah for about three years, running a fitness program in Salt Lake City. The couple started the adoption process about a year ago and met their son, age 11, earlier this year. They expect the adoption to be finalized later this month.
Van Amstel told The Washington Post that his family had felt welcome in their community. “Not once have I been treated like how this woman treated us,” he said.
The incident happened Nov. 21 at the public school in Cedar Hills, part of the Alpine School District. Students, responding to a question from the substitute teacher, said they were thankful for turkey, their pets and not having to go to school during the holidays, the Tribune reported.
But when the boy gave thanks for his adoptive fathers, the teacher told him it was “nothing to be grateful for” and lectured the class about how “homosexuality is wrong.” The three girls went to the principal’s office after trying — unsuccessfully — to get the teacher to stop.
The school acted quickly, van Amstel said. The teacher was escorted out of the school, defending her comments and blaming the boy along the way. An Alpine School District spokesman told the Tribune that the district has a strict nondiscrimination policy and that “appropriate action” had been taken.
Van Amstel said his son initially didn’t want to tell his parents what happened, fearing it might jeopardize his adoption. He had come close to being adopted previously, only for it to fall through. Instead, van Amstel said, he cried when he heard the boy’s response to the teacher’s question.
“We knew the moment we met him that this is our son,” he said.