News Brief

Russian Teacher Fired Over LGBTQ Rights Posts on Social Media

A 21-year-old music teacher from the Russian city of Krasnoyarsk has been fired after her employer received a complaint regarding her posts about LGBTQ rights on the popular Russian social networking site, VKontakte.

Management at the School for Further Education No.4, where Maria Shestopalova was employed, received a dossier of photographs and screenshots taken from her social networking accounts, compiled by Timur Bulatov, a known homophobic activist from St. Petersburg.

Entitled “Maria Andreevna Shestopalova, Sodomy Propagandist,” the 31-page-document alleged that the teacher “promotes homosexuality” by sharing an LGBTQ positive pictures and that she leads an “unhealthy lifestyle,” having posted pictures of herself smoking a water pipe.

The dossier concludes that in the “opinion of patriots,” Shestopalova should be prevented from working with children as she “may cause harm to her students,” and suggests that her behavior may be the result of mental illness.

According to a social media post by Shestopalova, Bulatov called her at her school on the evening of Monday December 19 and informed her that he had sent the document to the head of her school, the town’s mayor and the regional office of the Ministry of the Interior.

“Before I had time to digest this deluge of information, I received a call from the director of my school,” wrote Shestopalova. “Not long into our conversation, one thing became clear: tomorrow at 9 a.m. their assessment of all of this would be waiting for me…and that they would compel me to resign or fire me.”

The director of the school Olga Etzel told the Russian news website Meduza that Shestopalova had written a letter of resignation herself, and that the teacher had not been pressured.

Etzel added that the music teacher had “violated ethical codes of conduct,” by wearing revealing clothing and having ear-stretching tunnel piercings.

Bulatov leads an organization called the “First Moral Front of Russian Parents,” and claims to have forced as many as 61 people from their jobs using this method. He combs through the social media accounts of Russian teachers and reports those he suspects of being gay or supporters of LGBTQ rights to their employers.

In July 2015, Bulatov spearheaded a letter-writing campaign against Dr. Dimitry Isaev, Russia’s top sexology expert, and succeeded in getting him fired from his job at the St. Petersburg State Pediatric Medical University. Isaev ran a medical commission which issued permits to enable transgender Russians to undergo gender confirmation surgery. The commission was known for having a tolerant and understanding attitude towards transgender people.