A Florida Town Learns a Hard Lesson about the First Amendment… Or Does It?

As students head back to school, things are a bit different these days at Ponce de Leon High School in the Florida panhandle. Following an ACLU lawsuit over the summer, anti-gay censorship by school officials is no longer being tolerated, and the school has a new principal.  We’ve told you about this case before, but in case you missed it, this new story from the Associated Press tells a bit more about why a young woman named Heather Gillman decided to stand up for her LGBT classmates and the First Amendment, and how her small town is still a difficult place for gay kids and their friends to grow up:

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 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.

And despite all that, many in this conservative Panhandle community still wonder what, exactly, Davis did wrong.

Here’s hoping the folks in Ponce de Leon eventually learn that the same Constitution that protects their right to their views about LGBT people guarantees the right of LGBT people to express their point of view, too.

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Liberal hater

All fags and dykes will burn forever in HELL if they do not repent of their sins.

Eternity in torment is a horrible price to pay for a disgusting, perverted act.

Hey, who knows, maybe the American Criminal Liberties Union will sue me for hate speech!

ACLU HYPOCRITES

The ACLU will claim to fight for the Bill of Rights but when they pick and choose which parts to ignore they lose all credibility.
There is no first amendment without the second!

texas_libertarian

So many public schools think that the Constitution does not apply to them. This is an excellent example of that. Although public school teachers and administrators have a right to view homosexuality as immoral, they cannot harass and intimidate their students because of their personal beliefs. Thankfully,the courts (for the most part) have been upholding students rights over abuse by the schools. I am very skeptical of the "sensitivity training," however.

AlaskaMountainMan

This is just another story regarding Christan bigots abusing people who aren't of their ilk. These people are zealots and will stop at nothing to further their causes. And one really has to watch out for them if they are in a position of authority. How sad that the taxpayer is saddled with the expense of defending the outrageous behavior of their school principal. It's even more sad that the superintendent continues to make excuses for and still employs this guy. I would hope that after the locals cough up $325,000, that they would then fire both of these yokels, and stop supporting such Neanderthal behavior. The judge should have ordered a gay/straight alliance to be funded as well. Praise Jesus in your church, not in my school.

Patrick Prescott

his case revolves around what schools all over the country have been trying to promote for over ten years: Character Counts. Respect is one of the key words in Character Counts and that means no student should be subjected to or have to endure ridicule, harassment or being demeaned by other students, teachers or administration. It's a shame that the Principle of the school and the people of the community think that bullying is appropriate behavior.

smith

Unfortunately the refreshing reliability of the ACLU to support freedom of speech strictly by constitutional right--not by what happens to bother other people--has been lost on its attorney Benjamin Stevenson, quoted in th AP qualifying what views may be expressed on a T-shirt. For all those who ever wished to sway the ACLU to an exception, it appears the gay lobby has found a way. Another institution bites the dust.

Dan

In my opinion I think homosexuals should keep there sexual preference to them selves. You don't see the millions of HEADERALSEXUALS running around in parade. If you feel the need to speak out about your sexuality be ready for the ridicule your about to receive. On the same note no one should lose there job over it but then again if you keep to yourself you wouldn't be in that position.

carrie

when will humanity ever learn that intolerance breeds judgement which equals hatred which causes war which has turned our world into the mess that we're in this very moment? love and acceptance really is the answer. the writers of our constitution were not that far off in allowing us the rights they afforded to be who we are. we are so fortunate to live in a country where we have the opportunity and freedom to express those liberties. now if we could just stop fighting amongst ourselves maybe our leaders could get a clue...

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