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Home : News : Local
7/11/2013 10:30:00 AM
Teacher still speaking for life - and still employed for now
 Portland Public Schools image
Crowd applauds as Bill Diss leaves microphone at school board.
 Portland Public Schools image
Crowd applauds as Bill Diss leaves microphone at school board.
Ed Langlois
Of the Catholic Sentinel

Last month, dozens of pro-life Hispanic Catholics stood in protest during a Portland school board meeting, yelling "Viva Cristo Rey!"

Passions are high over the case of Bill Diss, the Benson High School math and electronics teacher who was suspended after refusing to allow a Planned Parenthood program to proceed in his classroom.

So far, Diss is still employed by Portland Public Schools, but has been warned that he may be terminated.

Diss, a member of Holy Rosary Parish, is pro-life director for the Knights of Columbus of Oregon and founder of Precious Children of Portland, a group that opposes Planned Parenthood for its abortions and messages that Diss says fly in the face of common sense purity.

In mid June, Diss and his union-provided lawyer met with the district for a preliminary hearing on charges ostensibly about the quality of Diss's teaching.

Attorney Liz McKanna presented his case, saying he has been teaching math basics to children who have trouble with math. McKanna added that for a faithful Catholic to be asked to work with Planned Parenthood in his classroom would be similar to asking someone to work with the Ku Klux Klan.

Diss has continued to go to school board meetings to protest the presence of Planned Parenthood on campuses. On June 17, he told the board to listen to children playing and had two girls play patty-cake. He then asked board members to listen to the sound of the children aborted at Planned Parenthood. He sat silently for almost two minutes and then called it "deathly silence."

Hispanic Catholics gave Diss a vibrant standing ovation and began their chant, which was used by the Cristeros, religious foes of Mexico's anti-clerical policy in the 1920s. Parent Avella Chavez told board members she finds it hard to believe that the schools have Planned Parenthood working in the schools, since the organization has long attacked the faith and values many Latino public school families hold dear.

Chavez called Planned Parenthood "an anti-Catholic and racist group."

Maria Velazquez read the school board a March open letter from then-Archbishop John Vlazny, who vouched for Diss's integrity and said that "it would seem that his rights as a citizen and his competence and dedication as a teacher are presently being undermined." Archbishop Vlazny said a resolution to difference of opinion cannot be found by "eliminating people from the discussion."

This summer, Diss has been invited to speak at local churches including Holy Redeemer, Holy Cross, Ascension and St. Patrick.

Related Stories:
• Teacher, a pro-life advocate, put on leave
• Efforts to oust Planned Parenthood from schools hit wall

Related Links:
• Excerpts from June 17 school board meeting:

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