You may remember a few months ago I posted about a lawsuit against Ponce de Leon High School in Florida, where the principal had suspended several students and declared that no one could have any message on anything in the school that was pro-gay rights – even a rainbow sticker. As predicted, the principal lost the case and lost badly.
The facts as stipulated by the court are actually worse than what was originally reported. You really have to read this ruling to believe just how insane this principal was. It started when a lesbian student complained to a teacher about being bullied and harassed by a group of students. Rather than dealing with the harassment, the principal called the lesbian student into his office and berated her. I’ll let the court ruling lay it out:
At the end of the school day on the following Monday, September 10, 2007, Davis called Jane into his office. Davis asked Jane if she had told the teacher’s aide that she identified herself as a lesbian. Jane answered, “Yes.” Davis then asked, “Are you a lesbian?” Jane again answered, “Yes.” Davis counseled Jane that it was not “right” to be homosexual. He then questioned Jane about whether her parents were aware of her sexual orientation. When Jane answered in the negative, Davis asked Jane for her parents’ telephone number so that he could call them and inform them of her sexual orientation. Davis also instructed Jane to “stay away” from the
middle school students or that he would suspend her. Jane left Davis’s office in tears.
Gosh, I can’t imagine why. And it actually gets worse from there. Davis then brought in a local minister to hold a “morality assembly” for the whole school. At that point, a group of students began expressing their support for Jane, wearing t-shirts and buttons showing their support. And yes, it actually gets worse:
Following the assembly, Davis began investigating what had come to be known as the “Gay Pride” movement at the school. He interviewed approximately thirty students, interrogated them about their sexual orientations, and questioned them about their involvement in the planned walk-out of the assembly and their activities in relation to the movement. During those meetings, Davis instructed students who were homosexual not to discuss their sexual orientations. He also prohibited students from wearing rainbow belts or writing “Gay Pride” or “GP” on their arms and notebooks.
But wait, there’s more. Believe it or not, it actually gets worse:
He required students to wash “GP” or “Gay Pride” from their arms and hands and lifted the shirts of female students to verify that no such writings were present on their bodies.
A nice touch, don’t you think? But no, we still have not hit the depths of this cretin’s behavior.
On Friday, September 21, 2007, and Monday, September 24, 2007, Davis suspended eleven students, including Gillman’s cousin, for five school days each as punishment for their involvement in the “Gay Pride” movement. As grounds for the suspensions, Davis explained that the students belonged to a “secret society” or “illegal organization” forbidden by school board policy; had threatened to walk out of an assembly; and had disrupted the school. Davis told the mother of a student whom he had suspended that he could secretly “send her [daughter] off to a private Christian school down in Tallahassee” or to the juvenile detention center and that “if there was a man in your house, your children were in church, you wouldn’t be having any of these gay issues.”
This is all beginning to sound like the script from a John Hughes movie, where the brave students stand up to the evil principal – but this sonofabitch actually exists! And the school board was just as idiotic:
In light of Davis’s prohibition of messages relating to the support and acceptance of homosexuals, Gillman sought clarification from the School Board about its own position on the matter. On November 2, 2007, Gillman and her cousin (who had previously been suspended by Davis), through legal counsel, sent a letter to the attorney for the School Board. The letter requested guidance on which phrases and symbols students could display at school without being disciplined. Specifically, Gillman sought permission from the School Board to display
rainbows, pink triangles, and the following slogans: “Equal, Not Special Rights,” “Gay? Fine By Me,” “Gay Pride” or “GP,” “I Support My Gay Friends,” “I Support Gays,” “God Loves Me Just the Way I Am,” “I’m Straight, But I Vote Pro-Gay,” “I Support Equal Marriage Rights,” “Pro-Gay Marriage,” “Sexual Orientation is Not a Choice. Religion, However, Is.”
By letter dated November 12, 2007, the School Board responded that none of the phrases, symbols, or images contained in the letter dated November 2, 2007, could be displayed by students at Ponce de Leon High School. The School Board justified its censorship on the ground that the expressions indicated membership in an “illegal organization” prohibited by School Board policy and were disruptive to the educational process.
Apparently the school board attorney got his degree from Billy Bob’s Law School and Bait Shop. They could sue that idiot for malpractice for being that utterly clueless of the law. There’s no point in quoting the court’s legal conclusions; if ever there was an open and shut case, this was it. The plaintiff’s brief could have just said “DUH” in big letters on it and they would have won.
But I’m glad to see that the judge didn’t mince words. He called the principal’s behavior “deplorable” and says, quite rightly, that he engaged in a “witch hunt” that was blatantly unconstitutional. He also calls Davis out for lying on the witness stand (Mr. Buckingham to the white courtesy phone).
He also blasts the school superintendent for his utter ignorance of the constitution. That guy actually said on the witness stand that he thinks students should not be allowed even to wear a button supporting a presidential candidate. And these are the halfwits charged with the education of our children. This is absolutely one of the most ridiculous cases I have ever come across.