Judge rules for straight student friend of gays in freedom of expression case

Ande @ Toweroad has the good news:

United States District Court Richard Smoak ruled in favor of high school student Heather Gillman yesterday in a suit she and the ACLU brought against her school’s principal and the Holmes County School Board. Gillman claimed that her First Amendment rights were violated when the school forbid her from wearing clothing or displaying stickers supporting tolerance and fair treatment of LGBT people.

Via the ACLU: “During the trial, which was held in Panama City yesterday and today, Ponce de Leon High School’s principal David Davis admitted under oath that he had banned students from wearing any clothing or symbols supporting equal rights for gay people. Davis also testified that he believed rainbows were “sexually suggestive” and would make students unable to study because they’d be picturing gay sex acts in their mind. The principal went on to admit that while censoring rainbows and gay pride messages he allowed students to wear other symbols many find controversial, such as the Confederate flag.”

Said Gillman, who is not gay: “Standing up to my school was really hard to do, but I’m so happy that I did because the First Amendment is a big deal to everyone.”

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  • SteveK

    Good… It's always good when common sense prevails and it's been such a 'god awful' long time since common sense has prevailed.

  • StockBoySF

    This is great and the student was very brave for standing up against the principal.

  • CStanley

    Davis also testified that he believed rainbows were “sexually suggestive” and would make students unable to study because they’d be picturing gay sex acts in their mind.

    Uh, OK. If I were this guy's wife I think I'd be a bit worried. Just sayin'.

    Personally I think schools ought to be able to ban any expressions that might be too politically charged, because the school setting isn't necessarily the best place for that. The political emotions could be a distraction (not the gay sex fantasizing that this principal is apparently concerned about.) But of course, if the schools prohibit an expression of one type, they have to be consistent. I think that the school board ought to set the policy and have a clear method for students and parents to petition if they think that a particular expression is causing problems and needs to be added to the 'no' list, or to petition if they wish to have something permitted that has previously been banned. As long as the community is allowed to make the decisions based on what's best for the educational environment, then you won't have one person in authority acting according to his or her own biases to prohibit certain expressions but not others.

  • http://stubbornfacts.us/ Tully

    What a maroon. He should have just banned impure thoughts altogether! That's the ticket….

    Either allow nothing at all, or don't allow anything that creates or encourages active disruption. Selective approval of non-disruptive message? BAD IDEA.

    A passive statement about not hating people is hardly disruptive. Good for the student.

  • http://stubbornfacts.us/ Tully

    BAD double negative! No cookie. Typo fixed.