Florida Principal not so much a pal

Filed under: Teens, Day Care & Education, Sex

Rainbow pride flag flying proudlyIt cost the school district over $300,000 in legal fees, sent teachers to sensitivity training, and trampled the constitutional rights of students, and yet, many in the Florida community of Ponce de Leon still support principal David Davis' "witch hunt" against gay students and those that supported them.

While he was principal of Ponce de Leon high school, one of Davis' seniors came to him to report that other students were taunting her for being a lesbian. She probably thought that Davis would do something about the situation. Well, he did, but not exactly what she had hoped. He told her that it was wrong to be a lesbian, told her parents about her sexual orientation, and began a "relentless crusade" against homosexuality. He asked students about their sexuality and told gay students to stay away from the other kids.

He banned supportive slogans such as "Equal, Not Special Rights" and "God Loves Me Just the Way I Am," as well as pink triangles and pictures of rainbows. The student sued and a federal judge ruled that Davis and his "alter ego", the Holmes County School Board, had violated the students' constitutional rights by denying them the ability to express themselves. "The atmosphere that was created at the school was so intimidating for these kids," said Chris Hampton of the ACLU.

And yet, many in the community still support Davis and what he did. Holmes County Superintendent Steve Griffin removed Davis from the position of principal, but allowed him to continue teaching at the same school. Griffin also keeps a bible on his desk and has various scriptures framed on his wall. "We are a small, rural district in the Bible Belt with strong Christian beliefs and feel like homosexuality is wrong," he said.

But it's not about what the community believes, it's about free speech. "Davis's opinions and views are consistent with the beliefs of many in Holmes County, in Florida, and in the country," wrote U.S. District Judge Richard Smoak. "Where Davis went wrong was when he endeavored to silence the opinions of his dissenters." Because, after all, if we don't allow people to express opinions we don't agree with, are we any different than China or North Korea or Iran?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.