Monday, May 23, 2005

School violence and free speech

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Student journalists sued their Bakersfield high school district Thursday in an effort to keep the school's principal from censoring student newspaper articles on homosexuality.

The suit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, requests an emergency order to allow the paper to publish the stories in The Kernal's year-end May 27 issue.

"The Kernal staff, along with the gay students we interviewed, we have lost our voices," said the paper's editor in chief, Joel Paramo, a plaintiff in the case filed in Kern County court.

East Bakersfield High School Principal John Gibson said he blocked publication because he is worried about violence on campus.

"It's not about gay and lesbians. It's about student safety," he said.

Paramo, however, said the principal's decision "regrettably sends the unmistakable message that school officials would rather students keep closeted about their sexual orientation."

California's education code allows schools to censor student publications if articles are obscene, libelous or slanderous, or incite students "as to create a clear and present danger."
This raises an interesting issue. How is it that we tolerate the level of violence at our schools that gay and lesbian students are in danger for the crime of existing? Assuming the principal isn't homophobic, and is honestly telling the truth, doesn't the ACLU have a much bigger problem? Having taught at a rather violent school, I can honestly say that the level of bigotry at urban schools which are seen as "multicultural" is as bad as it gets. These students have no qualms about expressing their hatred of certain groups. There was a gay teacher at the school I taught at, and the abuse was just incredible to behold.

"Gay and straight students alike report that teachers regularly ignore and do nothing to intervene in cases of verbal and physical harassment of lesbian or gay students. (Lenskyj, 1990)

Studies reveal that lesbian, gay and bisexual youth continue to be victimized in schools and are five times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. (Gibson, 1989) Children who nobody suspects are gay may also be suffering the effects of homophobic violence in ways just as devastating as those may who are physically attacked or verbally harassed."Gay and straight students alike report that teachers regularly ignore and do nothing to intervene in cases of verbal and physical harassment of lesbian or gay students. (Lenskyj, 1990)
ysically attacked or verbally harassed.


Blogger gentlemancaveman said...

A school district in Northern Cal. has also had problems with this issue. Cal. had a state wide day of silence, I believe that it was state wide, to represent the lost-lack of voice gay, lesbian, bisexual persons have in our society; esp. in education.

Outside sources that are opposed to homosexuality went to the school district and helped organize anti-homosexual events. This included money and manpower. Seems rather sad that this amount of resources is used for something that really does not personally effect those who oppose it. Wouldn't it be better to use these resources to benefit society and esp education and the school system.

Another sad fact. In one of the schools students, some of whom are homosexual and some who are not, put up posters at the school they attended. The posters were approved by the administration and the posters were put up in the areas were the students were told to put them.
One teacher, appearently offended by the posters, removed them by ripping them down in front of students. The teacher had no authority or reason for this action. When the teacher who was helping the students approached the other teacher and asked what was going on the 'offensive' teacher verbally assaulted this co-worker and became threatening.
Nothing was done about this situation.

7:23 PM  

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