In Virginia recently, a student made a mistake of wearing a suggestive lesbian T-shirt to school. However, the “news” reported that an official made a “mistake” in asking her to cover it up. This editorialization in the lead line of the story was on the AP. An interesting point of view, for a reporter to take.
The student, Bethany Laccone, 17, was asked to cover up a logo on her shirt depicting two women in a sexual embrace. She did as asked, but complained to her parents (likely friends of Michael Newdow) that this had happened, and thus, the ACLU was brought into this.
The ACLU claimed that this was an attempt to censor the expression of a “political view”. How clever. Is this the best they can muster?
Concerning the “censorship”, I’ll be frank. Kids really don’t have all the rights adults have, and hopefully never will.
Regarding the reference to political views, first off, this is not a political view. Secondly, if in fact we wanted kids to have complete freedom to “politically” express their views, we would give them the power to vote.
Now, the school’s dress code (much like nearly every school in the Union) expresses a prohibition of “bawdy, salacious, or sexually suggestive messages.” If this does not fit that bill, I don’t know what does. In fact, in most schools, open shows of public affection are often not even tolerated between heterosexual folks. But this is NOT about what “sexuality” you are, but rather, whether or not you have a right to express that graphically, on a shirt, or in actions with others, in a public school, as a minor.
Most schools have instituted in policy (which is the grassroots “law” for Administrators to follow) standards of dress, and action, among other things. The underlying premise of these policies is that students are NOT allowed to act however they wish when those actions might interfere with the maintenance of basic order.
And, concerning these policies, the schools have great latitude. The most amazing example recently is the “Bong Hits for Jesus” case. Google it if you are not aware of it. This case even gave power to the school over the student OFF CAMPUS.
At the crux of the issue at hand now is the teacher who asked the shirt be covered. She stated it “interfered with her ability to teach.”
In spite of the ACLU’s ‘threats’, many landmark cases have been decided in the last 20 years that set the precedence in these types of cases that concern schools. In addition, many other victories have been won concerning other Constitutional related issues, such as the use of “Christmas” next to the word “Program” or “Break”. I know, because I was on a School Board who has challenged the ACLU on such an issue. We won (the ACLU completely folded after many months, after they saw we would not yield), and the District where I live now has, again, “Christmas Break” on their calendar, and school marquis, after more than a 20 year hiatus.
The ACLU knows they have NO standing to win these cases. They simply threaten, like a rattlesnake, in the hopes people or institutions will back down. And guess what? MOST of the ACLU’s ‘victories’ have been the result of these weak kneed politicians or officials figuring the fight was not worth the expense.
This current case is another ACLU “cornered rattlesnake” act. Speaking again from some experience on School Boards, the Supreme Court has ruled in many cases that, under the broad umbrella of preserving order, broad restrictions such as restrictive dress codes can be demanded in policy. If you want a simple example, YOUR public school has the right, right NOW, to impose a school uniform, if they want.
Unfortunately, in the lesbian T-shirt case, up to this point in time, the School (Principal) is falling for the rattlesnake rattle. With any luck, a good Superintendent, or School Board member, will intervene and get the right “guns” into the fight, and allow the decision to find the support it deserves.
In this case, the ACLU gave the school until January 11th to respond. I certainly hope they have contacted the “anti” ACLU organizations that have emerged, and are doing a fine job of shutting the ACLU agenda both down, and up. Regarding the student, she stated that she just wants to wear her shirt. Well, there are some places you can wear that shirt. But not in public school, any more than another student can wear shirts showing two heterosexuals or homosexuals embracing sexually.
She went on to say, “I don’t feel like I should have to hide my sexuality.”
Well, you don’t have to “hide” it. You can show it where you want. You just also have to accept the consequences. If it were not a shirt, why don’t you try standing up in class every 3 minutes and say “I am a lesbian!”
See how far that flies.
In a High School setting full of kids swimming in their own hormone pools (I know, I was there), these kinds of shirts, without a doubt, pose an unquantifiable disturbance.
This school did the right thing, the first time. Let’s hope that they find the right path back to supporting the rights they have to make the decision they made in the first place.
Take the time to contact their Superintendent of Schools on this issue.David.Stuckwisch@pps.k12.va.us