UPDATE: Link to the ACLU's letter to Principal Simmons regarding this incident can be found Here.
2nd UPDATE: My apologies for not realizing until now (4:08 pm EDT) that I forgot to embed the link to the article about Dawn Henderson. I blame no one but myself.
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I'm shocked, shocked I tell you that anti-gay bigotry exists in the Louisiana public school system. Well, as they used to say -- NOT!
An eighth-grade Louisiana student who was sent home from school for wearing a pro-equality shirt is receiving support from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
KTBS reported that De Soto Middle School student Dawn Henderson was ordered to go home after refusing to remove a shirt with the text "Some Kids are Gay. That's OK."
De Soto Middle School Principal Keith Simmons said he sent her home because her shirt was a distraction to other students.
I'm not just picking on Louisiana. I'm sure there are a lot of states where local schools would have done exactly the same thing. But not in the Republican school district in which I live in Western New York (FYI western NY not a hotbed for Democrats or liberals: Tea Party candidate Carl Paladino came from Buffalo, after all).
In my school district, my daughter (in High School) belongs to a Gay Straight Alliance Club (GSA) that has equal footing with all the other clubs allowed to meet on school property. THE GSA have been permitted to
accost approach good fundamentalist christian kids in the hallways as part of a fundraiser for charity (in the GSA's case a local homeless shelter if I remember correctly). The GSA club members have also worn T-shirt supporting their club and promoting equality for LGBT people.
You know what? No one bothered them. Not the kids and not the adult administrators. My daughter even talked many of her Christian friends (even the ones that believe the Bible makes gay hating a good thing) to contribute money for the GSA fundraiser. She didn't change their minds, but she was respectful of their beliefs and they respected her views.
She was no more of a distraction than Christian kids at her school who promote their beliefs. I know because several of them have tried to convert my daughter (apparently they have a sincere concern for her immortal soul). What a surprise.
So the Principal of De Soto Middle School is full of it (and by it I mean cow excrement).
Oh, and by the way, for those of you who think that the ACLU only defends the free speech of liberal kids in school, well think again. Fronmthe ACLU's own website, their press release about a legal victory for kids promoting their anti-gay opinions:
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that students at Nequa Valley High School will be allowed to wear t-shirts expressing their views on homosexuality:Neuqua Valley High School students would be allowed to wear “Be Happy, Not Gay” T-shirts under a ruling Tuesday by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. [...]
In its opinion, the court said a “school that permits advocacy of the rights of homosexual students cannot be allowed to stifle criticism of homosexuality.” [...]
When this case was previously before the appellate court in 2008, the ACLU of Illinois filed an amicus brief that urged the court to balance two competing and equally important legal rights when determining whether public high schools can limit student speech that disparages other people on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, and other protected identities. First, public high school students have the fundamental right to free speech, including the in-school expression of controversial and offensive messages. Second, students also have the fundamental right to freedom from discrimination on the basis of protected identities. [...]
In this “be happy not gay” controversy, the ACLU stood up for speech it vehemently disagrees with. We do so because the First Amendment will protect either everyone or no one. ...
Conservatives and even more extreme right wingers are big on claiming they are oppressed by liberal media and liberal organizations. The truth is they are more than happy to allow the ACLU to defend them when their freedom of speech is on the line. Its the freedom of speech rights of those who don't believe what they believe with which they have a problem.
De Soto Middle School, and any school that restricts the free speech of students, should remember that freedom cuts both ways. If it does not, then we all have no rights to promote the views and values in which we believe.
Dawn Henderson, I'm proud of you. I wish you the very best of luck as you fight for your right to speak your mind at your school, the same rights that my daughter has at hers.