Owen Stevens, a 21-year-old education major from Hemlock, currently attending SUNY Geneseo, has been suspended from mandatory field experiences as a teacher degree candidate, when the university became aware of his social posts full of conservative ideology, especially concerning transgender people and other topics that some may feel are very controversial. Owens, a history major at SUNY Geneseo, is studying courses preparing him to be a history teacher.
According to the Daily Wire and other national newspapers, Stevens was recently sent news of the suspension from participating in in-school field experiences and courses that have field experiences in them until he completes a “remediation plan” which will require him to take down his Instagram videos, and tone down his social media presence.
Stevens has refused to do so.
The university says that Stevens has violated the school’s inclusivity doctrine which says that teacher candidates are to foster “a diverse campus community marked by mutual respect for the unique talents and contributions of each individual.” A spokeswoman for the college told the Daily Wire that “by choosing to enter into certain professional fields, students agree to abide by the professional standards of the chosen field. At times, these professional standards dictate that students act and behave in certain ways that may differ from their personal predilections.” Owen, who describes himself as a Christian, pro-Trumper, conservative Christian fighting for “truth and liberty, does podcasts and videos which he posts online. According to the university education department, some of the videos call into question his ability to “maintain a classroom environment protecting the mental and emotional well-being of all of [his] students.” State University of New York (SUNY), Geneseo, New York, sent him an email placing him on suspension from his field teaching programs.
Most schools also look for teachers who are all inclusive, without regard to race, gender, or social group, and may check social media in the hiring process to avoid possible controversy with minority students’ parents or other groups. The college’s policy reflects and acknowledges the general teaching profession’s standards of being open and welcoming to diverse students.
Stevens has said he has received death threats and other threats since this became public, and has been covered in national news in everything from the Daily Wire to Christianity Today.
When Stevens was suspended from the field experiences, The President of the college e-mailed students, saying “Yesterday, I was made aware of a current student’s Instagram posts pertaining to transgender people…I want to take this opportunity to publicly restate my deep personal commitment to promoting social justice.” He also acknowledged that there are clear legal limitations to infringing on a student’s right to free speech, writing to Stevens that “This public position (on transgenderism) is in conflict with the Dignity of All Students Act requiring teachers to maintain a classroom environment protecting the mental and emotional wellbeing of all students.”
The reason behind the suspension from the field experience in schools, according to the university, is that Stevens’ videos “call into question” his ability to “maintain a classroom environment protecting the mental and emotional well-being of all of [his] students,” the Daily Wire reported.