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But you can't yell "Gays are immoral!" in a crowded school!

by Jeremy Hooper

 Good As You Images  Good As You Images  Good As You Images  Good As You Images  Good As You Images  Good As You Images  Good As You Images  Good As You Images Picture-8-4-2-2-1-1-1 1-1In reaction to the news that a U.S. District Judge has denied two students the right to wear anti-gay tee shirts to class, Peter LaBarbera of the so-called "Americans For Truth" says today:

How can students in the United States of America be allowed to promote the acceptance of homosexuality (e.g., the national Day of Silence) but not criticize it? Remember: many people of faith (and others) do not agree with the modern, trendy notion of “gayness” as personhood — i.e., that it is a part of a person’s intrinsic identity. Instead, they view homosexuality as changeable, unnatural and/or sinful behavior, as evidenced by the many men and women who once considered themselves “gay” but have since left their homosexual lifestyle behind.

Judge Hart’s decision creates classic viewpoint discrimination in a public, taxpayer-funded forum (schools) and we hope ultimately that it will be struck down in appeal. I trust that even some of our “gay” critics will see how this ruling is incompatible with the First Amendment.– Peter LaBarbera

Well Pete, none of your critics, gay (no quotation marks) or otherwise, will "see how this ruling is incompatible with the First Amendment" if they understand the First Amendment! Unfortunately, however, there seems to be loads of confusion out there about the nature of "free speech." When convenient for their cause, people love to present the idea that freedom of speech gives everyone the right to say whatever they want, whenever and wherever they want. While true that the First Amendment protects Americans from having their speech stifled by the government, businesses, corporations, bosses, schools, and other institutions place limits on speech ALL OF THE TIME! Students (hopefully) could not wear to school a racist, misogynistic, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, or any other type of shirt that condemns another group. And while folks like Mr. LaBarbera refuse to see gays as a "group," many people -- most gays and lesbians, in fact -- do feel that one's sexual orientation is an intrinsic part of their identity. Disallowing anti-gay tee shirts that are truly hurtful to some students is not a violation of free speech or expression!

Then there is the issue of religious vs. non-religious messages. Those who are participating in the Day of Silence or who are in any way encouraging an environment wherein LGBT folks are not bullied and harassed, are not trying to have their own moral viewpoints injected into a church-separated environment. Those who are using their faith to condemn gays are trying to marry church and state and, in the process, tell folks from various faiths and religious background that God views them as immoral. That sort of standpoint would be kosher in a private, religious school. However, this sort of message will not and should not be acceptable in a public school. Any and all students are free to hold and express their viewpoints, but when they literally try to emblazon such a divisive, hurtful message on their chest, this is a far different story. And, we would be saying exactly the same thing if the shirts in question read, "Be happy, not Christian" instead of "Be happy, not gay."

It's continually enraging the way these "pro-family" folks try to (a) hide their bias behind the Bible and then (b) try to foist those Biblical views on the public at large. If they would just be honest, they would admit that what they truly want is a theocratic, Christian nation. That is their ultimate goal, and while they surely realize they will never achieve that sort of church-married government, they will take any strides to blur the lines of what "religious freedom" truly means. To them it does not mean that people are free to believe or not believe whatever they wish; it means that they are free to install a Ten Commandments plaque in the middle of Times Square, and anyone who says, "wait, that's not right", is being a religious bigot. It is their constant push to legislate morality that is truly threatening America's freedoms, not rulings that limit when and where their moral viewpoints are able to be expressed. Again, the students who were fighting to wear the anti-gay tees are still just as free to stand on a public street corner and repeat Leviticus 18:22 until they are blue in the face. They can go to whichever church they wish this Sunday, and pray for all of the lost Sodomite souls that plague this land. They can look the pro-gay students in the eye and say "I don't at all agree with your views; I'm Christian and I find them immoral." However, a school is free and right to hold a dress code wherein no group is singled out and condemned on the basis of who they are. We trust that even some of our “anti-gay” critics will see how this ruling is completely compatible with every amendment!

Viewpoint Discrimination: Judge Blocks Students’ ‘Be Happy, Not Gay’ T-Shirts in Naperville, IL’s Neuqua Valley HS [AFT]

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Your thoughts

Im a christian and i have no problem with gays i support them. i think its crazy that gays can't have a normal life like other people. my opion is gays should have rights as any other person and should be treated right.

Posted by: Amber | Jun 27, 2007 11:08:54 PM

But separation of church and state was never meant to apply to individual expressions of belief, just official state expressions. I completely agree with no school or teacher-run prayer. However, let's say a student is just wearing a shirt that says "I Love Jesus." That isn't the state respecting religion, because the state isn't doing it and neither is an agent of the state. Besides that rarely there are nonreligious reasons people have for being antigay. Both types are ridiculous reasons, but reasons nonetheless.

I completely disagree with this girl's opinion. In fact I'm an agnostic bisexual, but as Voltaire said "I may disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Posted by: VoltaireFan | Oct 27, 2007 2:32:23 AM

When are atheists going to stop trying to prevent Christians from praying or stop forcing them to learn Darwinism?

No where in the consitution is there anything about government officials not expressing religion. State church seperation has to do with law "enforcement" not expresion. Sadly, I can almost here your answer coming . . . you don't care about my freedom. I know like 80% of the time this is the response I usualy get in so many words.

I wish Atheists could engage in some peaceful dialog about state church seperation instead of disregarding the public rights of others in favor of their own public rights.

Posted by: pencil | Dec 15, 2008 7:17:35 PM

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