Thousands sign petition after teacher banned from Lehi High School for saying two words

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LEHI, Utah -- The Lehi community is rallying behind a science teacher who spent more than three decades teaching at Lehi High School before being banned for using two words that some students and their parents found offensive.

RevaBeth Russell taught at Lehi High School for 32 years before retiring two years ago. However, she has returned many times since as a substitute.

In April, Russell was told she will no longer be permitted to teach at the high school after she used the word "condom" and the word "boob." It took place while she was substitute teaching a math class.

Russell said it was all in good fun. Many students wonder, what's the big deal?

"In high school, many kids say a lot of words, and I'm pretty sure, I'm positive, that they have heard those words and worse words," student Alexi Terry said.

However, one parent posted this on social media: "My son was in the classroom when this went down...he said the things that she talked about were very offensive. Bad enough that he didn't want to talk to me about it."

Fellow teacher Leah Kinyon spoke about the incident.

"I can honestly understand certain students, especially here in Lehi and Utah County, being slightly offended, but to the extent that they have taken this discipline is ridiculous," she said.

Kinyon explained the incident as she heard it from Russell.

"A student called her sir, and I think that's what led to the boob comment. She said, 'Last time I checked, I'm still a woman,'" Kinyon said.

Students at Lehi High School are surprised and saddened that Mrs. Russell will no longer be seen walking the halls.

"I had Mrs. Russell sophomore year just for biology, and she was the best teacher I ever had," Alicia Nelson said. "I still remember going into her classroom and just feeling so welcome and comfortable."

Student Jenna Adams also reacted.

"Now for her just to be kind of thrown out of this place, I mean where it's been home, it just kind of breaks my heart," she said.

A petition has been started in support of Mrs. Russell, so far more than 3,300 people have signed it. Click here to view the petition. 

"I want to stand up for her and show her that Lehi has her back," Kinyon said.

Alpine School District referred all questions about Mrs. Russell to Kelly Services, the company that employs her as a substitute teacher. They released this statement.

"As an employer who conducts business based on the highest standards of integrity and professionalism, we do not discuss employee matters publicly."

Mrs. Russell is still permitted to substitute teach everywhere else, just not at Lehi High School.

86 comments

  • Boo

    Boob, boob, boob! Good grief….if possible, get your kids out of the public indoctrination system. This PC garbage is getting out-of-hand.

    • Mike Lavender

      “Liberal bias’? Hardly. This is a typical reaction by the Rabid Religious Right. Instead of focusing on education they strive to force the kid’s heads deeper in the sand. And they always blame “liberals” for every perceived slight.

      • rt

        Nearly every percieved slight IS at the hands of liberals! Now move over lady I’ve got to pee.

  • Honestly?

    OH no!!! Not boob and condom….. My ears, they’re burning!! It’s more dangerous to realize some people are offended by these words than they are by the promiscuity that takes place among the students and faculty (yeah, every workplace has it, don’t kid yourself….) Grow up, Lehi Board of Education.

  • Cort

    She was substitute teaching a math class. What do boobs and condoms have to do with math? Context matters. It was a math class. A math class. She could have said “broccoli” and “applesauce” and I’d have the same question. Maybe the reason American students do so poorly in international rankings of performance is that their math teachers are talking about boobs and condoms, instead of, you know, math.

    • HONESTLY?

      Yeah, me too…(happy that you don’t live in Utah.). Not sure why people like you feel the need to group everyone together and make overreaching statements that are all inclusive in a negative way. Retard.

  • liberalssuck

    NEVER happen if she were a minority….(not white).Minorities can spout racist crap all day long and get applauded for it and maintain their jobs.I have seen it a number of times.And for those liberals who say I am lying-I have a TON of links to prove it.Including death threats to caucasians.So watch what you say,BUT only if you are white.Other than that feel free to speak your mind(unless you are a white liberal,then you have free reign also).
    Courtesy of obamas fundamental changes for america.Just like he promised.

    • grumpy0ldman

      Nobody cares about looking at your collections of links to far rightwing websites. Repeating a lie doesn’t make it true.

  • Terra Envy

    This is beyond ridiculous.
    I had Mrs.Russell as my biology teacher and she was one of the most inspiring and amazing teachers I ever had.
    You would go into her class knowing you would have a good time, not because of the subjects, but because of who she is.

    • analogismos

      i suspect this is the most relevant post in the entire comments section for this article. Thanks!

  • Arnold J Rimmer

    Interesting how they wont say what context the words were used in.
    “Stop being a boob”.
    Not a big deal.
    “Come grab my boob.”
    Ban justified.

  • Howard Winn

    Get real! These are High School Students. If for nothing else they should realize Not everyone finds some words offensive. They have probably used far worse language (yes even in Lehi) than this teacher used. Someone is always looking to be offended by someone or something.

  • Gretchen Carter

    The parent with the teenage son who wouldn’t even talk about the terribly, disgustingly offensive use of the word “boob” must live pretty sheltered lives. Seriously, if you’re older than ten & you are that shocked by other people’s boobs than you need to remove your mouth from your mom’s boob & grow up.

  • Alan Cheney

    If you’d like to express your opinion to the Alpine School District in Utah, which made this decision, call (801) 610-8400 and ask for Mrs. Bird. Or you can talk with someone in the PR department, who are very polite if you are. You may also email the School Board President at johnburton@alpinedistrict.org

  • LehiEducator

    Congrats to Fox 13 for reporting an incomplete story! Did you think to talk to any of the 30 or so students who were in the class? Those students are saying there is more to the story. More than just “boobs” and “condoms”, on the exact same facebook page that you decided to take the quote from the mom from. But how convenient you only chose to use the posts that would cause controversy and public shaming of the students. Because it was all their fault that she chose not to follow the guidelines that she knew to be in place, since she taught there for numerous years. Shame on her for not standing up for these kids and setting the record straight. Do you really think that Alpine School district would get rid of a person for saying “inappropriate words”? It happens every day. Does logic not tell you that there is more to this story? I use to have a high respect for you, Reva Beth. I get it that sometimes we make stupid choices. We’re human. But when you allow the public shaming, and degrading of children, yes they are still children, to save your own face, then you are not worthy of the respect of fellow educators or any one else.

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