AIDS-related Stories and Links
Vincent Chalk: Teacher & Reluctant AIDS Activist
by Jay Bell
Vincent Chalk, a gay ex-Mormon and an Orange County educator since 1980, sued the Orange County Department of Education in 1987 for being dismissed because of his AIDS. The unwilling activist collected a $35,000 settlement, with the help of the ACLU and after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court's "irrational fear" ruling, resulting "in a landmark ruling protecting the job security of AIDS patients in government jobs."
Chalk returned to work "amidst hugs, flowers and posters" by his students and friends as the Regional Occupational Program coordinator for deaf students at University High and Venado Middle School on 23 November. "He will do so part time, depending on how he feels. 'All you can do is listen to your body,' he said."
The dedicated educator passed away on 2 October 1990 at the age of 45. Pearl Jemison-Smith, Chair of the AIDS Coalition to Identify Orange County Needs, offered the following tribute to Vincent:
How very fortunate we are to have someone like Chalk finally, publicly stand up and fight for his rights as a person with AIDS. In doing so, he made living with AIDS a little easier for all people with AIDS. His personal commitment to civil rights, sacrifice of personal privacy, and enduring perseverance in this fight are an inspiration to all people. Chalk, most of all, should be applauded for his dedication and devotion to helping all people with AIDS.
Friends and students alike loved Vincent and admired him for his dedication.
Vincent's Page in Affirmation's AIDS Memorial
Dianne Klein, "Court Assails Earlier AIDS Ruling Against Chalk,"
Los Angeles Times, 27 February 1988, 9; Rebecca Leung; "HIGH
LIFE Teacher Dares to Look Ahead: AIDS Victim shows Hope, Optimism,
Prompting High Praise From Students," Los Angeles Times,
Orange County Edition; 14 May 1988, 4; Jane Applegate, "Ruling Keeps
Teacher With AIDS Out of Classroom, Los Angeles Times Orange
County Edition, 30 September 1987,6; Lanie Jones, "Teacher's Exile
by AIDS Looms as Test of Law," Los Angeles Times Orange County
Edition, 20 September 1987,1; Jane Applegate & Bill Billiter, "Orange
County Teacher Wins AIDS Appeal," Los Angeles Times Orange
County Edition, 19 November 1987, 1; Jane Applegate, "Irvine Man Appeals
Ruling Against Classroom Posting Teacher With AIDS Fights Court Action,"
Los Angeles Times Orange County Edition, 20 September 1987,
6; Jane Applegate; "Teacher With AIDS Optimistic After Job Is Reinstated,"
Los Angeles Times Home Edition, 20 November 1987; 5; "Teacher
With AIDS Welcomed Back by Hugs From Students," Los Angeles Times
Late Final Edition; 23 November 1987,.1; Dianne Klein, "Emotional
Welcome for AIDS Teacher Tears, Hugs Mark Return to School," Los
Angeles Times Orange County edition, 24 November 1987, 1; Dianne
Klein, "AIDS Teacher Returns Amid Hugs, Smiles," Los Angeles Times
Home Edition, 24 November, 1987, 3; Pearl Jemison-Smith, "Chalk
Return to Classroom," Los Angeles Times Orange County Edition.;
29 November 1987, 20; "American Notes AIDS: Back to School," Time,
7 December 1987; or URL Internet site www.time.com/time/archive/preview/0,10987,1101871207-145544,00.html
as of October 2002; Ray Perez, "Suit Dropped to Bar Teacher With AIDS
From Classroom Duties," Los Angeles Times, 9 December 1987,
4; John Spano, "Teacher With AIDS Given $35,000 to Settle Lawsuit,"
Los Angeles Times, 6 May 1988, 3; Jim Newton & Catherine
Gewertz, "Irvine Teacher in Key AIDS Case Dies at 45 -- Civil Rights:
Vincent Chalk's lawsuit against the County Education Department brought
a landmark ruling protecting the job security of patients in government
jobs," Los Angeles Times, 3 October 1990, Orange County Edition,
Section: Metro Page: 1 Pt. B Col. 5; or URL Internet site
http://www.aegis.com/news/bar/1998/BR980703.html as of March 2002.
All Los Angeles Times articles ca be found on their online archives
as of October 2002.