• Source: Twitter
  • School Finally Asks Anti-Gay Students to Stop Wearing Anti-Gay Badges, 'For Now'

    Administrators Had Refused to Ban Anti-Gay Symbols Fearing First Amendment Lawsuit

    Some students in an Indio, California high school have placed an anti-gay symbol on their ID badges they wear around their necks. The image consists of the round red "no" sign over rainbow stripes, signifying "no gays" (image above). When members of the school's Gay-Straight Alliance complained to administrators at Shadow Hills High School they were told the students had the right to wear the symbols as long as they didn't use them in a harassing manner.

    It's hard to imagine an LGBTQ teenager who sees the anti-gay symbol not feeling harassed. What, as one teacher asked, if it were a swastika? Or a symbol that telegraphed, "no Black people," "no Asian people," or "no women"?

    "After consulting with district level personnel and our legal counsel, it was determined that these students do have the protected right to freedom of speech, just as students portraying rainbows in support of the LGBT would," a statement sent to staff last week via email read, according to Kristen Hwang at The Desert Sun.

    "If at any point students are interrupting class time to express their beliefs, they are to be sent to the discipline office with a referral for disruption," the email added. "We all have a right to freedom of speech, but students also have a right to be educated without fear. This has always been our policy, and we will continue to enforce it."

    Hwang reports that the "LGBTQ community on campus feels targeted. The same students who were distributing the anti-gay symbol on campus also placed one on the window of the Gay Straight Alliance coordinator's classroom, said Amy Oberman, an AP U.S. History teacher at Shadow Hills."

    But today Hwang reports that the superintendent has asked the anti-gay students to remove the anti-gay badges "for now."

    District Superintendent Gary Rutherford told The Desert Sun, "recently some information has been brought forward that requires additional investigation and follow-up to determine a proper course of action. Pending further investigation, we are going to ask students who are displaying the symbol showing a rainbow pattern with a circle and a line, at least for now, to remove symbols while at school."

    Shadow Hills High School senior Michelle Bachman last week told The Desert Sun"This group of students was publicly displaying an intolerance and hate for the LGBT community when a large portion of our students at SHHS are part of the community or close to people a part of it as well."

    "This is definitely hate speech, but legally, we can't do anything until these students start to physically harass us, which I believe is an injustice."


    Image via Twitter

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    • commented 2016-03-05 13:55:24 -0500
      If this is an official ID they can ban ANY additions. That requires they ban any changes, not just unpopular ones, but there is no freedom of speech issue there.

      Further, I have a strong belief they can, or should be able to, ban any such commentary in school during school operations. If it’s not related to the school it can be excluded.

      There is no right to attack any person in a school.

    • commented 2016-03-01 12:07:33 -0500
      Nigel, you are 100 percent right, which is why Paige Labayog, my daughter, who is 13, started her smile rainbow sticker campaign to spread a message of positive acceptance. I will not even tell you the hate I have gotten in my email as her parent, but as long as they leave my beautiful, tolerant, lovely child alone, it is all good.

      Signed “an unholy Jezebel polluting the mind of innocents” aka Paige’s mom

    • commented 2016-03-01 08:49:43 -0500
      It crossed the line of free speech when the bigots placed their stickers on the GSA coordinator’s office.

    • commented 2016-03-01 06:47:00 -0500
      Christopher Hogan: Do you really want an agent of the government taking a moral stand? Does the name Kim Davis ring a bell? How about all the RFRA bills in state legislatures? This is the price we pay for freedom of speech — some of that speech is going to be repellent, and should be treated as such. I’d like to know what sort of pushback these little a-holes are getting. Let’s start with open disapproval from students and faculty. It’s long past the time when LGBTs and allies have to just put up with this sort of thing.

      As it stands, it looks as though the administration’s hands are tied until there is disruption. Then they can act.

    • commented 2016-03-01 03:30:53 -0500
      They’re little assholes, but free speech is free speech. Unless they are being disruptive or harassing other students, then they get to exercise their free speech rights.

    • commented 2016-03-01 01:57:00 -0500
      Could a student walk in wearing KKK robes? Or, as mentioned in the article, a swastika arm band? Or how about a black student wearing Black Panther memorabilia? Could a kid carry around a bible that they tore in half? All of these are freedom of speech, but that speech is clearly expressing hatred against a specific group of people, which is discrimination and hate speech which aren’t protected by the First Amendment. No matter how they put it, negativity directly aimed at homosexuals fall under this flag of discrimination as well. Wearing those stickers is already harassment as it’s projecting a negative statement: “I don’t like you if you’re gay.” That’s not free speech, it’s hate speech, and it shouldn’t be protected.

    • commented 2016-02-29 22:28:32 -0500
      This is the time that the school district needs to take a moral stand. and make it clear that the pro-gay symbol is allowed and the anti-gay symbol is not. Do not fall into the trap that the homophobes want you to fall in. That would be to just take the easy way out and say that NEITHER symbol will be allowed on campus. If this happens, it will be a major victory for the bigots, who will have succeeded in preventing students from expressing support for equality, while the haters are free to harass gay kids. If allowed, this strategy could be replicated across the country. It’s time to stand up and say “enough of this sh*t.” HOMOPHOBIA IS MORALLY WRONG; GAY IS OK. DEAL WITH IT.

    • commented 2016-02-29 22:25:43 -0500
      Can someone help me out? Doesn’t California law prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation? For example, doesn’t the California FAIR Education Act prohibit negative messages about people of any sexual orientation? Does the legislation only apply to the institutions and not to the students themselves? Wouldn’t other elements of California anti-discrimination legislation prevent the wearing of these red circle-slash symbols?

      One problem I see with these stickers is their meaning is ambiguous enough as to be possibly interpreted as "no gays/LBGT allowed’ or ‘gays/LGBT should be excluded,’ ‘gays/LGBT are bad’ and so on. Isn’t that hate speech since an entire group of people is being targeted?

    • commented 2016-02-29 22:12:36 -0500
      I sent link blog link and first few paragraphs to Congressman Dr Raul Ruiz .. I was a donor in his hardwon campaign for Congress vs Bono from Palm Springs… I hope he will intercede and make school ser what is right.
      @melissa Labayog… Please share rhat part of story with Congressman Ruiz too.

    • commented 2016-02-29 21:02:50 -0500
      This all came out because a middle school student in this district made rainbow smile badges and passed them out at her school after the district allowed this for two weeks. Paige Labayog shared her story on local media, which is how it came to light. How sad that the adults in this situation lacked the bravery and common sense of a 13 year-old girl willing to stand up and tell the truth and challenge accepted hate symbols by her own school district. go Paige Labayog….I am so proud of you!

    • commented 2016-02-29 20:36:19 -0500
      How about a crucified Jesus with a big red slash through Him? Free speech is a two way street.

    • commented 2016-02-29 20:18:49 -0500
      The proper thing then would be for the patriotic pro-equality students to wear a symbol as follows: the word homophobia with a line through it to denote that the students are against the unchristian behavior of homophobia. If “free speech” works one way, then it also works the other.

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