The sophomore, Megan Chase, wrote an article stressing the virtues of tolerance and respect for the differences between gay students and heterosexual students. As a direct result, the school newspaper adviser, Amy Sorrell, now stands to lose her job.
I stress what I have stressed in previous messages pertaining to the homophobia that is rife throughout the US. Quite bluntly, the US is morally backwards, obtuse, and childish in its refusal to acknowledge the differences between gay people and heterosexual people. Only in America, in the year 2007, could a school teacher face losing her job as the result of permitting the article in question to be printed.
The "controversial" material in question? Read the following, quoted directly from Chase's article:
"I can only imagine how hard it would be to come out as homosexual in today's society," she wrote. "I think it is so wrong to look down on those people, or to make fun of them, just because they have a different sexuality than you. There is nothing wrong with them or their brain; they're just different than you."
Yes -- this statement, published in the school newspaper, led the school district to recommend the sacking of Amy Sorrell, who has been placed on administrative leave following the publication of this "controversial" statement.
I know that this is difficult to believe. As the entire world moves forward and embraces the humanity of gay and lesbian people, America disgraces herself in public. Sorrell now faces the loss of her job -- merely because she permitted the school newspaper to include an article stressing the need for tolerance of people who are different from the majority of their peers.
There is one glaring irony to this display of moral infantilism. Because Sorrell works for a public school, which is a political subdivision of the State of Indiana, she can bring suit against the school district for violation of her First Amendment rights -- and should Sorrel bring suit, she stands an excellent chance of winning, given the clear and unambiguous line of decisional law handed down by the US Supreme Court and the US Courts of Appeals with respect to cases of this nature.
What is shocking, however, is the fact that the advocacy of tolerance of human differences could lead to the possibility of a school district firing a teacher. What is shocking is the fact that tolerance is seen as being "controversial" and that writing about the difficulties faced by gay and lesbian students as they come out to their peers could become the fodder for a group of bloody-minded, pious, mealy-mouthed hicks.
The following statement, made by the assistant superintendent of secondary education and technology, Andy Melin, is illustrative of the mentality of so many Americans, who appear to be incapable of independent thought (that is to say, incapable of dealing with any material that they have not heard uttered from church pulpits):
"The way we view it is the broad topic of homosexuality is a sensitive enough issue in our society that the principal deserves to know that it's something the newspaper is going to write about."
Fortunately, a gay advocacy group named Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (P-FLAG) has taken up this issue and is firmly on the side of Sorrell and Chase. Should the school district actually be so stupid as to fire Sorrell in the face of First Amendment jurisprudence that bears directly on this, and similar, situations, the school district will almost certainly lose, and lose big time. Even the most conservative Courts of Appeals have found, consistently, for teachers and students in the face of dilemmas such as that in which Sorrell is now mired.
I am a US citizen. There was a time that this made me proud.
Now I am ashamed.