Last week, a Louisiana middle school student was sent home by the school’s principal for wearing a shirt with a friendly, pro-equality message: “Some Kids are Gay. That’s OK.”
The censorship of this truthful statement has gained attention from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which recently defended another student who wore a shirt that said, “Be Happy, Not Gay.”
You don’t have to like either message. The rights of the students’ freedom of expression were infringed when they were sent home and not allowed to wear the shirts, which is indicative of a larger issue within society.
Censorship lies between the carefully practiced, and at times unnecessary, art of political correctness and attempts made to please people more than to offend.
Even if these actions are taken to avoid conflict among students, it’s still wrong and prevents the opportunity for a lesson in respect. Teach the students and teach everyone to respect others’ opinions and school administrators won’t have to worry about instances like this in the future.
Just like they do with the gentleman who yells at students outside of Cooper Hall, student are going to have to deal with seeing and hearing things they don’t always agree with. It’s an integral part of U.S. society that people can express their beliefs without penalty.
The majority cannot indulge folks wishing to bury their heads in the ground like an ostrich every time they sense something unpleasant.
Neither can everyone indulge the few that wait for an opportunity to attack the opinions of others.
Remember, there is a difference between respectfully questioning other opinions and attacking them with negative words or even physical violence. People can’t keep a hold on their dignity behaving that way, and certainly shouldn’t be able to demand respect after that point.
The ACLU is working to give equality to opposing views, ensuring that Americans continue to have freedom of expression.
However, it’s going to take the effort of everyone who participates in society to recognize differences of opinion and expression, respect them and help ensure that this precious right is preserved.
Erin Lindsey is a senior majoring in French.