November 16, 2010
Teacher suspended for removing student who didn’t ‘accept gays’
Free speech is not an absolute right. In fact, the Supreme Court has held that there are a lot of instances in which speech can be bridled. Insulting speech is not one, but public schools do have the ability to restrict student speech. We often see this with student newspapers.
That should make for an interesting legal battle in the case of a Michigan teacher suspended without pay for removing from his class a student who said he didn’t “accept gays.” To be sure, there is no lawsuit yet between high school teacher Jay McDowell and the Howell school district. But I would be surprised if one doesn’t follow.
Here’s the back story from NPR:
Oddly, I don’t think this would have become a free speech issue if McDowell had just thanked the student for his perspective and kindly asked him to withhold such comments from class. Maybe, but I doubt it. And there were certainly other reactions on the spectrum between cheerleading the student’s comment and kicking him out of class over it.
In the above video, another kid defends the teacher’s actions. On a related note, I can’t tell you how many rural towns I’ve heard referred to as the “headquarters of the Ku Klux Klan.”