Sunday, December 04, 2005

Parental Rights Diminished

A judge in California has cleared the way for a teenage girl who is represented by the ACLU to continue a lawsuit in which she alleges her right to privacy was violated when the school principle disclosed to her parents the reason behind a school suspension. The girl was suspended initially for one day and then later for a week following disciplinary action which was centered around the girls failure to follow school policies regarding appropriate physical contact with another student during school time and on school property.

Why has this case made it to court? It wasn't because the girl was disciplined in a manner exceeding school policy, it was because in revealing the circumstances involving the disciplinary action the principle disclosed that the inappropriate physical contact the girl was involved in was committed with another female student. The girl who was "in the closet" at home, was actively "out of the closet" in school. So much so that she was disciplined not once, but twice.

If you could just imagine for a moment the conversation between the principle and the students parents at the time of disclosure of her sexual orientation. "Hello, this is the principle calling to inform you that your daughter has received a weeks suspension and you need to come pick her up." "What for?" "Hmm, well for violating school policy on inappropriate physical contact, which as it is has happened now for the second time." "Yes, that is correct your daughter was seen holding hands and kissing another student". "With who?" (Stop and think about this a moment - what parent would NOT question who their child was making out with?). "Er, um well Ms. Jane Doe." (A gasp - followed by dead silence). THEN - "No, there is no mistake - both girls have been disciplined and at this time we feel that due to the extent of their activity it would be in both girls best interest and that of the schools to separate them". "Yes, separate them due to their inability to conform to school policy".

Does this sound familiar to the parents out there? What parent of a teen has not either had the same conversation with a school principle or knew of a student that their child was in school with that was disciplined for similar reasons? Similar yes, but very different because when the parent asked who their child was swapping spit with they were given the confounding news that it was one of the same sex that they knew nothing about.

Is the school in violation of the students right to privacy? It seems to me that this principle was between a rock and a hard place. Had he refused to identify the sex or identity of the other student involved, the parents would have understandably raised holy hell with the school district for not disclosing the information. Under the circumstance, the principle truthfully answered the parents questions and has been brought to task for it by a student and the ACLU. How fair is that? In this particular instance the ACLU says that the students parents have "been supportive", so what is the problem here? Had the girl been punished at home through abuse either mentally or physically for her activities once the parents learned her sexual orientation I could seen how revealing it would have caused a problem worthy of litigation, but her parents are described as being supportive. There has been no real harm done.

The girl in this lawsuit was an honor student. At the schools request she was transferred to another school and her grades slipped, which could have had some weight I would think in court as being evidence that the punishment created an emotional problem that did not exist prior to her being disciplined. Oddly enough, this is not the reason behind the lawsuit. It is based entirely on the principle revealing her sexual orientation. That her grades slipped was a secondary issue, which has been introduced as supporting evidence to show the extent of emotional distraught that the girl had. Under normal circumstances, her grades would likely have dropped, (regardless of who she was swapping spit with) just from having to relocate to a new school away from her main squeeze and the rest of her friends. But there is nothing normal about this case, including the grounds on which it was filed.

Under the circumstances, I find this case angers me a great deal. For a few reasons. First and foremost is the fact that the parents allowed their daughter to contact the ACLU and continue with the lawsuit, thereby undermining the schools authority to discipline according to policy. Secondly, I find that the personal dynamics of this family should not take precedence over that of the schools policy and what is in the best interest of the school to maintain discipline with the student body. Since the child was so overt in her activities in school that a disciplinary action was instigated against her, neither she nor her parents should have grounds in which to take an issue on her right to privacy. Simply put, the girl was out of line and deceptive to boot - the principle was doing the right thing in disciplining her. Had the girl requested that the other parties identity not be revealed to her parents because she hadn't told them, I am sure that the principle would have had the parents come in and sit the child and the parents down and let the child tell them herself. Obviously, the girl kept her mouth closed then and now is openly telling the world (with her parents blessings apparently) that she was the wronged party through litigation. Finally, that a judge would find reason to support this deceptive behavior has me totally outraged. This case, filed by the ACLU and accepted as a worthy case by this judge, is yet another example of how daily parental rights are diminished by a legal system that is not looking out for society as a whole, but rather is about how our society has become so frivolous that the rights of one wrong child are placed above the rights of all parents, (not only in this school district, but possibly on a national basis) if the court rules in this out of control childs favor.

Promoted at:
Stop the ACLU
Jo's Cafe
Cao's Blog

You are invited to advertise your stories daily (no limits), but please read my rules. Find my rules here for submitting your piece. Thanks for sharing!

Sharing today is:
The Florida Masochist with Was he full of hot air? (apparently, not enough).
The Florida Masochist with The Knucklehead of the Day award (or how "NOT to raise a child").

I will post it here (to give credit to you) as soon as my schedule permits.

posted by Is It Just Me? at 5:00 AM