Silence in high school

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on February 13, 2008

I've been following the case of Harper v. Poway Unified School District for years. (For background read here and here.) The short summary for those of you who haven't been following it is that Tyler Chase Harper was pulled out of class for wearing a T-shirt condemning homosexuality at school on the school-approved "Day of Silence" promoting homosexuality.

For the second time, U.S. District Judge John Houston ruled that school officials have the right to practice viewpoint discrimination. (My understanding of Houston's nuance may be off.) Houston relied on an appeals court ruling that legal experts (read: lawyers I agree with) characterize as "deeply unsound." Houston found the ruling "persuasive."

The appeals court said schools could ban speech judged demeaning to other students who had to be insulated from “psychological attacks that cause young people to question their self-worth and their rightful place in society.”

Following that logic, just about all speech will be banned in high schools around the nation. Seriously, this is high school, there isn't a kid who went through high school who wasn't the target of “psychological attacks that cause young people to question their self-worth and their rightful place in society.”

He wrote that a school “interest in protecting homosexual students from harassment is a legitimate pedagogical concern that allows a school to restrict speech expressing damaging statements about sexual orientation and limiting students to expressing their views in a positive manner.”

Oh, to be a member of a protected class. High school is now a Stuart Smalley skit.

“It appears to be a double standard,” said Robert Tyler, one of Harper's lawyers with the Alliance Defense Fund, a group that advocates for Christian legal issues. “Why is it acceptable to tell a student of faith their views are not as valuable as the view of any person opposing them?”

Because this is the 9th Circuit, silly rabbit.

We'll see if the ruling will be appealed (again) and if the Supreme Court has the intestinal fortitude to rule on it this time.

0 comments on “Silence in high school”

  1. It is not the place of the government to impose any sort of morality on anybody. This "day of silence" does not belong in the school. Neither does the shirt, although I don't blame the kid for protesting.

    I pay taxes to support education, not indoctrination. Where are the adults?

  2. I said it from the very beginning. You can ban them both or you can ban neither. It's the differing treatment that is illegal.

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