ACLU Sticks a Pink Slip Up Homophobic Principal
Half the fun of college is finding out who you really are by joining clubs, organizations, fraternities or sororities around campus. These groups are great outlets for expressing our opinions and perfect opportunities for exercising the First Amendment right to free speech.
However, a Florida high school begs to differ. School officials at Ponce de Leon High are rightfully facing a federal lawsuit. Students complain that the school board and principal, sweetly identified as ‘Defendant Davis,’ punished all signs of support for gay students.
The incident was sparked when Heather Gilman, a 16-year-old junior, tried to tell school officials that other students were harassing her for being a lesbian. Instead of putting the kids in their places, the principal told Gilman that she should not be gay, should not tell people she is gay and should not commune with girls on campus because gay pride is a disgrace to the school.
Yow. After this display of tolerance, Gilman’s friends began wearing rainbow stickers, writing ‘GP’ for ‘Gay Pride’ on their arms and ‘I support my gay friend’ on their textbooks. However, it seems Davis is above the law. He called the ‘offenders’ and instructed them to cut it out because ‘pro-gay speech was disruptive to the school and asserts that they are in an illegal organization.’
A letter from the school board defined an ‘illegal organization’ as ‘any attempt to use the school day for activities that are not school-related or school-sponsored.’ By this definition, students are forbidden from wearing Quicksilver shirts and brand-name clothing, since the symbols clearly convey ‘illegal’ membership in non-school-sponsored organizations.
Davis finished digging his grave when he interrogated Gilman’s cousin and informed her ‘being gay is against the Bible.’ He said he hoped she ‘would not go down that road.’ If she did, he told her he would suspend her.
On Sept. 24, 2007, Davis did, in fact, suspend a group of students for five school days. What were his reasons? ‘Belonging to a secret society,’ ‘threatening to walk out of an assembly’ with anti-gay undertones and ‘disrupting the school by being part of a gay protest.’
So we have a school run by Bible-thumping homophobes who punish students for free speech. What happened next? A big, fat federal lawsuit in the face is what happened next, and I, for one, am glad to see it.
The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the school for trampling on students’ rights. School officials like Davis and his fellow rainbow-trashers believe they can simply slap the label ‘disruptive’ on anything they don’t like. Guess what, Farmer Brown? You’re about to experience one painful example of financial sodomy, whether you believe in it or not.
If I went to Ponce de Leon, I’d be cheering its students as they kicked the ignorant son of a bitch out into the parking lot. Every official who sneered at the phrase ‘gay pride’ should walk home with a box of their belongings and a federal pink slip shoved high up their ass so they never forget about it.
I hope this case will warn other schools that students cannot be frightened into silence. If you try to slap down your personal beliefs as school policy, students will find a way to slap you back five times as hard. More importantly, I hope it will empower other students to express themselves if they face discrimination.
While this issue isn’t as common in other states, the southern states have been known for such religion-induced intolerance. A documentary that investigated so-called ‘Bible camps’ depicted them branding children as sinners, making them cry and scaring them into Christianity. In these camps, anti-gay attitudes are the norm rather than the exception.
People should not be scared into an idea so that obnoxious intolerance doesn’t stem from brainwashed fear. Having some pseudo-preacher in the principal’s office running anti-gay assemblies and imposing religious laws on the school is going to brainwash the kids. When those kids go out into the world, they will start lobbying against gay rights and condemning people from different religions because that’s what their joke of a principal taught them.
I have no problem with Christianity or any other religion. I find it heartwarming whenever I read about Christianity bringing people together and inspiring acts of compassion. However, for all you religious fundamentalists out there, you can bite me.
AE Anteater is a second-year English major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.