Remember high school student Colin Johnson’s wonderful Wichita East High School op-ed “Homosexual teens alienated by current societal trends,” where he quoted from the Bible to argue why gays are basically only going to find salvation by dying? (Okay, we’re paraphrasing.) Turns out his school is going to stand by his First Amendment right to hate his classmates.
“This article, like the hundreds of opinion pieces published throughout the school year in student newspapers throughout the Wichita Public Schools, is the opinion of one individual,” the school says in a statement. “As with opinions expressed in community media outlets such as the Wichita Eagle and local television stations, the views of one person do not necessarily represent the school or district opinion or position on an issue. Mr. Johnson’s piece is the expression of his opinion, a right afforded to him and all students through the First Amendment and the Kansas Student Publications Act, which specifically notes that ‘material shall not be suppressed solely because it involves political or controversial subject matter.’”
Hey, they’re right! Johnson does have First Amendment rights. Know what’s not covered by the First Amendment for students? The right to disrupt normal school activity. Which explaining why homosexuality is “a social disruption in may cases and should be kept out of school to ensure our education mission with as little of a distraction as possible” might do!
The statement continues:
East High administration, teachers and student editors recognized that the opinion of this one student author would prompt potentially uncomfortable reactions and passionate responses from individuals with a variety of perspectives. To this end, East High Principal Ken Thiessen met with members of his school’s student organization representing students with alternative lifestyles, explained the circumstances leading to publication of this student opinion, and invited students with a different viewpoint to respond with their own opinion piece. Messenger student editors prepared and published their own response to Mr. Johnson’s editorial, consulted with the Student Press Law Center in Washington, DC, and have continued the long-standing Messenger tradition of inviting students with different opinions to participate in the conversation.
The opinion of one student writer does not change the Wichita Public Schools’ commitment to providing a safe and nurturing environment for all students. Our high school student newspapers fulfill an important role as we work to prepare students to become critical thinkers and contributing citizens of our community upon graduation. Our district will continue to encourage respectful dialogue and open conversation about a variety of issues, while at the same time ensuring the rights of all students.
Can a high school be a safe place for gays when it permits students to use the Bible to excuse their homophobia? Only if that same high school thinks it can have students writing about how blacks are an inferior race, because hey, that’s just the “opinion of one student writer.”
I’ll at least give Johnson points for being honest. From his Messenger piece:
Some youth that we have grown up with have never truly accepted or welcomed the gay population. Groups like the Gay-Straight Alliance here at East High try to make the relations between the hetero- and homosexual groups more conjoined as a student body. It is an honorable attempt, though how effective it really is, is yet to be seen.
However, the generation preceding our own has had such an anti-gay sentiment that it is difficult for our generation to accept these same sex relationships as a commonality.
But then he delves into the idiotic:
These relationships just are not normal. One thing to notice is that there is legislation against homosexual marriage. However, there are no legislative restrictions to same sex dating. Dating does often lead to marriage, so same sex dating should be frowned upon.
Some teens see it as abnormal, as well as the intimacy that comes with it. Some people believe that since the Bible verse Leviticus 18:22 said “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination,” they do not think it is proper for same sex relations.
Also, less commonly cited, is the death penalty called for in another Bible verse, Leviticus 20:13, “If a man also lie with man, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” These are the most common arguments against homosexual marriage and/or dating.
Same sex dating in high school is not accepted by many, despite the efforts of a few. It is a social disruption in many cases, and should be kept out of school to ensure our educational mission with as little of a distraction as possible.
Rewind just a few decades, and we’d be reading a student’s words about how “interracial dating in high school is not accepted by man, despite the efforts of a few. It is a social disruption in many cases, and should be kept out of school to ensure our educational mission with as little of a distraction as possible.” And it would’ve been excusable then, too, I guess.
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