Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Bad Judicial Decision

You can't pin the homophobe label on me--I have the pink triangle "safe zone" sign posted on my front wall, and my post in last week's Carnival of Education was why I support gay-straight alliances in high schools.

But I don't approve of the "Day of Silence", and this judge ruled incorrectly. Tinker v. Des Moines ruled that neither students nor teachers shed their 1st Amendment rights at the schoolhouse gate, and it seems more than a little arbitrary to say that "pro" slogans are acceptable but "anti" slogans are not. Many are (rightly) offended by "pro" slogans of views that offend them; why is their offense ignored while the other is not? A teacher at my school wears a shirt that has native Americans on the front with the slogan that says "fighting terrorists since 1492" or something similar. It's neither pro nor con, but it's definitely anti-American! That shirt, however, would seem to pass muster under the above judge's ruling.

Update, 4/20/07: Here's more "silencing":

A handful of students were suspended from Rio Linda High School on Wednesday for refusing to take off anti-gay T-shirts that administrators said were inappropriate.

The shirts, which the students wore in protest of the Day of Silence said "Sodomy is sin" and quoted a Bible passage about homosexuality...

Protestors say the Day of Silence promotes a gay agenda in the public schools. They say they should be entitled to counter it by promoting a Christian message. Peter Ganchenko of the Tree of Life church said scores of Sacramento-area students wore the "Sodomy is sin" T-shirts to school on Wednesday.

If you're going to allow one message in the school, you should allow the other.


Anonymous said...

I feel that i should be able to make whatever comment I feel like to anyother student negative or positive as long as I dont use vulgarity. The school's policy "to preserve the notion that kids shouldn't make negative or derogatory comments about other students." Is simply disturbing, do they not know the student population at all?? I can't think of a day that has gone by without a negative comment of one form or another.

CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

"If you're going to allow one message in the school, you should allow the other."

I agree.

We don't have to listen to (or read on a T-shirt) a message that offends us, but we dare not muzzle the messenger. In this country, everyone has a right to say what he or she wants to say--even if it offends someone else.

Sometimes the lone voice crying in the wilderness is the one we need to hear most.

Anonymous said...

I trust that defenders of "Sodomy is sin" T-shirts would also defend students parading through school with "Sodomy is the best sex you'll ever have!" T-shirts.

Fair is fair, isn't it? You wouldn't pull out the "inappropriate" argument on the second slogan since you liked the first one so much. Or would you?