Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Protecting Everyone's First Amendment Rights
Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

This single regulation on our government is perhaps the most important thing ever put down on paper. Without it, America would never be the free land that it is. Our ability to speak freely offers the greatest check in the world to those that govern us on a daily basis.

I have no problem admitting that sometimes I forget all about this right and wish that people on the other side would just shut up. I think that all people, no matter if they admit it or not, really do struggle with this problem at times. Luckily, I have the ability to catch myself and get on the correct page of thinking.
One of the biggest debates in the country involves homosexuality, especially in regards to education.

The First Amendment Center has published guidelines on dealing with this issue.

It took eight months to hammer out a statement of principles we could all support. But finally, on March 9, we released "Public Schools and Sexual Orientation: A First Amendment framework for finding common ground." Two major educational organizations, the American Association of School Administrators and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, have endorsed the document. The guide does not prescribe a particular outcome, but rather proposes a process for reaching an agreement that all sides can support. All of the sponsoring groups have agreed to disseminate the guidelines widely and encourage schools to address these issues proactively.

Fairness is a two-way street
For the process to work, school officials must be fair, honest brokers of a dialogue that involves all stakeholders. That means, first and foremost, that school leaders must refrain from choosing sides in the culture-war debate over homosexuality. If schools are going to find agreement on policies and practices that bring the community together, it won't be by taking a side and coercing others to accept it.

These statements are something that I agree with. First, schools have no business taking up either side of the debate. This is a culture war with both sides fueled by their moral beliefs. As a public, government funded institution, schools do not need to even involve themselves with the politics of this. They need to sit back and listen to the debate, never forgetting that everyone is entitled to speak their opinion.

Hopefully, schools will realize this and adopt the policy that the FAC has put out. Only when everyone is given a voice, and neither side is viewed as “wrong”, can a true debate ensue.


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