Helen G // 22 August 2008
I read the report, Many support ex-principal in gay rights case (link here) in the NWF Daily News with an increasing sense of incredulity and outrage. It raises so many questions, but it seems that the judge’s view is that the only relevant one appertains to the attempted silencing of dissent. I’d recommend reading the entire piece, but here are some extracts from it:
When a high school senior told her principal that students were taunting her for being a lesbian, he told her homosexuality is wrong, outed her to her parents and ordered her to stay away from children.
He suspended some of her friends who expressed their outrage by wearing gay pride T-shirts and buttons at Ponce de Leon High School, according to court records. And he asked dozens of students whether they were gay or associated with gay students.
The friends donned gay pride T-shirts and rainbow-colored clothing when they found out how Davis had treated her, and he questioned many of them about their sexuality and association with gay students. Some were suspended.
“Davis embarked on what can only be characterized as a ‘witch hunt’ to identify students who were homosexual and their supporters, further adding fuel to the fire,” U.S. District Judge Richard Smoak recounted in his ruling. “He went so far as to lift the shirts of female students to insure the letters ‘GP’ or the words ‘Gay Pride’ were not written on their bodies.”
The American Civil Liberties Union successfully sued the district on behalf of a girl who protested against Principal David Davis, and a federal judge reprimanded Davis for conducting a “witch hunt” against gays. Davis was demoted, and school employees must now go through sensitivity training.
Many in the community support Davis and feel outsiders are forcing their beliefs on them. Griffin, who kicked Davis out of the principal’s office but allowed him to continue teaching at the school, said high schoolers here aren’t exposed to the same things as kids in Atlanta or Chicago.
Although this does, as I said, raise many questions, it is interesting to note the judge’s opinion, which states: “I emphasize that Davis’s personal and religious views about homosexuality are not issues in this case. Indeed, Davis’s opinions and views are consistent with the beliefs of many in Holmes County, in Florida, and in the country. Where Davis went wrong was when he endeavored to silence the opinions of his dissenters.”
(Cross-posted from bird of paradox)
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