High School Censors Student Debate
A South Carolina public high school has decreed that there are certain topics that will not be allowed during a debate that is to be held Tuesday, October 19th. The topics, gay marriages, abortion, and stem cell research were deemed inappropriate by Fort Mill High School Principal David Damm, Curriculum Coordinator Cheri Young, and District Superintendent TEC Dowling.
The debate was organized by the student newspaper The Loudspeaker to mirror those between President Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry. Citing state law and following consultations with both Young and Dowling, the decision was made to ban the topics from discussion.
Superintendent Dowling says the administration is not trying to censor the debate.
David Stuckey, Chief counsel for the State Education Department apparently contradicts both the principal and superintendent. She stated, "As far as stem cell research, I have not seen that term used anywhere in the statute." Stuckey goes on to say, while health teachers may discuss HIV and AIDS, they may not discuss homosexual sex acts. Discussion of alternative lifestyles is not prohibited by any statute.
Students have been asking to know exactly which laws don't allow them to even discuss controversial subjects in a public forum. They have yet to receive a satisfactory explanation.
Your EdWonk is not passionately defending (or opposing) any of the three topics discussed above, (that is for another posting) but he is emotionally involved whenever the subject of censorship is mentioned.
The internet is one of the few areas where the "free exchange of thoughts and ideas" is relatively unregulated by The Government. It is in the interest of all that publish on the internet to defend that liberty. Therefore, free speech is a topic that is near and dear to the EdWonk's heart.
The Education Wonks believe that, especially in a public forum, all people enjoy the full protection of free speech guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. That goes for novice politicians too. Messrs. Damm and Dowling, you have been Educated by the Education Wonks.