Portland Teacher Fired for Objecting to Planned Parenthood Files Suit Claiming Discrimination, Retaliation

Bill Diss

Portland, Oregon: Former high school teacher and pro-life hero Bill Diss filed suit against Portland Public Schools last week for violations of his civil rights and employment discrimination.

“Bill Diss respectfully questioned the purpose for Planned Parenthood employees coming into his class. That simple act started the train of retaliation and harassment, eventually leading to termination of his employment,” comments Dana Cody, Life Legal Defense Foundation’s President and Executive Director. “Keep in mind that Portland Public Schools took the part of Planned Parenthood against Mr. Diss—the same Planned Parenthood caught on tape earlier this summer giving a teenager advice on how to access pornography, and engage in dangerous, deviant sexual acts.”

Mr. Diss was well aware of the problems and dangers Planned Parenthood represents, and he was willing to stand up and point them out.

According to the complaint, Diss was a good teacher who consistently went the extra mile to help students and colleagues succeed. He is also a deeply religious person who cared enough to publicly object when Planned Parenthood built a large abortion facility in northeast Portland. When his activities became public beginning in 2007, there was a dramatic shift in how Mr. Diss was treated at school. School administrators called him in for questioning regarding his activities and subjected him to heightened scrutiny in the classroom. Diss fought the unwarranted discipline with the help of his Union representatives, but the hostility he experienced was ongoing and pervasive.

In September 2012, Planned Parenthood employees came into Mr. Diss’ classroom as he was handing back a math quiz. They were there to recruit for their Teen Outreach Program (TOP). When Diss objected and asked to be excused from participating with Planned Parenthood, his request was denied. Administrators not only denied his request for accommodation, they went a step farther and systematically subjected Mr. Diss to unwarranted review and harassment. The level of scrutiny to which he was subjected is unprecedented, and included record numbers of in-class observations, as well as minute instructions of what Diss could and could not do in class. While Diss consistently complied with directives and worked to improve his teaching, nothing he did satisfied Benson High School administrators who worked overtime to build a case for Diss’ termination. They eventually succeeded. Despite a wave of community support, including letters from students, parents and fellow teachers, Mr. Diss was let go from work on March 19, 2012 and his contract was terminated on December 16, 2013.

“Planned Parenthood seems to enjoy protected status at Portland Public Schools. Mr. Diss came under attack as soon as he objected. Rather than protecting corrupt, dangerous corporations, we need to look for more teachers who care enough to say something and do something—just like Mr. Diss,” Cody concludes.

This complaint, filed on Mr. Diss’ behalf by Life Legal Defense Foundation, seeks monetary damages as well as equitable relief for the injury to Mr. Diss caused by the wrongful actions of Portland Public Schools and their agents.

“An employer—especially a public employer—should not discriminate against someone for their beliefs,” says Cody.

For more background on this case, see LLDF’s previous release.