The ACLU has filed suit in Indiana to support the “freedom of speech” of two high school students who posted their photographs on Facebook, wearing lingerie and holding phallic objects. What the ACLU deliberately missed in filing suit is that the girls were not disciplined as students, but only as voluntary participants in a sports team.
An article in the Atlanta Examiner.Com on 2 November, 2009, updates a story about an ACLU lawsuit against a school district in Churubusco, Indiana, concerning racy photographs posted on the Internet by two teenagers in a local high school. The girls were on a sports team at the school. At a slumber party, they “took pictures of each other in lingerie and holding phallic-shaped suckers.” Those were posted on Facebook.
When these photos were brought to his attention, their school Principal suspended the students from the sports team that they were on. They were not suspended from school. And subject to certain conditions, those suspensions could be ended.
The ACLU then filed suit in US District Court, claiming that no discipline should have been applied to the girls because this was “a matter of freedom of speech” under the First Amendment. At a recent meeting of the School Board, which was the impetus for this article, a local citizen said that the Principal should have been fired for getting involved in the matter. He also objected to the fact that defending against the ACLU suit was taking public resources away from more important, educational purposes.
(These ACLU Outrages have frequently made the point that the ACLU’s tactic is to attack small, local school districts and cost them out of court. The ACLU is a bottomless pit in supporting such litigation. Small districts have to sacrifice books, maintenance, salaries and such, to defend the suits.)
The Superintendent of the School District issued a statement in support of the Principal which is worth quoting. “The multiple pictures brought to school caused a disruption within our athletic teams at the beginning of this year’s seasons. The pictures were highly inappropriate in content and did not reflect the high standards of conduct we expect in our athletes and students who participate in extra-curricular activities.
“Students who are athletes at CHS are subject to rules and expectations at a higher level than students choosing not to participate in extra-curricular activities. They represent our school and community through participation in extra-curricular events and sports in our community and other communities when traveling to away events.”
The Supreme Court has frequently addressed questions about freedom of speech for high school students. They do have such rights, but at a level below that available to adults in the outside world. However, there is a different standard for students who participate in VOLUNTARY activities. At that point, where the students choose to get into an extracurricular activity and represent the school in outside venues, the school does have a right to set “higher standards” as it reasonably chooses.
In short, not only should the ACLU suit be pitched out of court, attorneys fees and costs should be assessed against the ACLU attorneys and their clients for cluttering the court with a frivolous case, and burdening the School District with the costs thereof. That would represent both justice and common sense, a rare but welcome outcome in an ACLU “civil liberties” case.
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