Catholic Sentinel photo by Ed Langlois
Bill Diss before his dismissal from Benson High School.
Catholic Sentinel photo by Ed Langlois
Bill Diss before his dismissal from Benson High School.
Bill Diss, pro-life director of the Knights of Columbus in Oregon, has been fired from his teaching job at Benson High School.

Diss, a member of Holy Rosary Parish in Portland, says he was targeted because of his pro-life activities. His attorney says further legal action is coming.

Diss, who worked at the school for 11 years, received good reviews from superiors before he began leading a campaign in 2007 against a large Planned Parenthood facility being built in Northeast Portland. That's when his bosses began criticizing him.

When Diss refused to allow organizers of a Planned Parenthood program to enter his classroom, school officials began sending in observers and disciplining him.

Diss says his opposition to Planned Parenthood stems not only abortion but what he sees as an agenda of promiscuity. When his students become sexually active, their grades and emotional lives suffer he says, blaming Planned Parenthood for spreading a destructive message.  

School officials say they fired Diss because of disrespect for students and peers and questionable teaching practices. The Portland School Board voted 6-1 for the ouster, despite the presence of groups of supporters, including students and local parishioners. Some held signs reading "We Love Mr. Diss." Steve Buel was the sole dissenter. Archbishop Emeritus John Vlazny wrote a letter of support for Diss before retiring early in 2013, saying "it would seem that his rights as a citizen and his competence and dedication as a teacher are presently being undermined."

Dana Cody, president and executive director of California-based Life Legal Defense Foundation, says the organization "will pursue every possible avenue in defending Mr. Diss’ rights in this matter." Cody called Diss "a well qualified teacher with a track record of success.”

Gayle Atteberry, executive director of Oregon Right to Life, criticized the decision as persecution against a Christian view of life. Diss has appeared on local and nation television news.