On Wednesday, Eddie Walker announced his intention to step down as the principal of a Columbia, S.C., high school because he said the formation of a gay club for students violated his religious beliefs. The following is his resignation letter to the school board:
Dear Irmo Nation,
In March I told our faculty and staff, PTSO Board, and SIC that I would be remaining at Irmo High school for two more years. I was committed to stay through the 2009-2010 school year. I am currently in good health, am excited about the future of Irmo High school, am making new friends every day, and continuing to learn from my student heroes on a daily basis. In short I am excited about coming to work every day.
However due to a recent conflict involving my professional and religious beliefs I sent Dr. Angela Bain a letter of resignation effective June 30, 2009. On May 14, 2008, I was instructed by email to allow the formation of a Gay/Straight Alliance Club at Irmo High School. On May 15, 2008 I told Ms. Ann Pilat to allow the formation of this club for the 2008-2009 school year. Allowing the formation of this club on our campus conflicts with my professional beliefs and religious convictions. I considered resigning this year but reconsidered because to not fulfill my written contract for the 2008-2009 school year would also conflict with my professional beliefs and religious convictions. In my opinion failure to fulfill my contract would constitute a breach of trust with School District Five of Lexington and Richland County, my student heroes, returning Irmo High School employees, and new employees who have chosen to work at Irmo High school for the 2008-2009 school year.
The formation of this club conflicts with my professional beliefs in that we do not have other clubs at Irmo High school based on sexual orientation, sexual preference, or sexual activity. In fact our sex education curriculum is abstinence based. I feel the formation of a Gay/Straight Alliance Club at Irmo High school implies that students joining the club will have chosen to or will choose to engage in sexual activity with members of the same sex, opposite sex, or members of both sexes.
I plan to tell our students via the intercom on Wednesday, May 21, 2008 that 2008-2009 will be my last year as Principal of Irmo High School. I don't plan to go into detail but simply plan to let them know that I will be graduating with the class of 2008-2009 next year. I don't intend to make a big deal out of this. Lets get it over quick so we can close this year and have a great 2008-2009 school year. I intend to work with you and our students to make 2008-2009 the best year in our illustrious history. It is very important to me that the club sponsor and all students who join this club receive Golden Rule treatment from everyone.
My decision to resign is a personal choice based on my professional beliefs and religious convictions. I have prayed about the decision for a period of time and I have a peace about it. I would ask that you respect my choice as I respect your choice to disagree with me on this issue. I bear no malice towards anyone involved. If the people involved at the district level had chosen not to allow the club to form I am sure the district would have been sued and the current legal opinions and precedents indicate that in all likelihood the district would have lost.
Eddie Walker: Class of 2008-2009