A 17-year-old student at Farmington High School, a public school in Connecticut, has been advised by the student activities director that she will not be allowed to speak during a school assembly on March 14 to support the nationwide student walkout for gun control. The student, Ashley Dummitt, was originally asked by the organizers of the rally to give her conservative, pro-Second Amendment views to the assembly in the name of bipartisanship, but the school administration has since blocked her participation.
Here’s what Ashley said in her Facebook post:
So apparently I am no longer allowed to speak at the gun reform rally my school is hosting? I just received this email from the office:
“Hi Ashley-I am the Student Activities Director here at FHS. I am writing to you because it has come to my attention that you have asked to speak at the assembly on 3/14 on behalf of the NRA and CCDL [Connecticut Carry Defense League] point of view. As someone who has supported student voices being heard here at FHS, I understand your desire to be heard, but I do not think this is the correct venue to do so. The rally will support student voices, but will first and foremost act as a tribute to the victims of the FL shooting and other tragedies like it. I encourage you to share your views at other events and would be happy to work with you to create your own if you would like. I know that the Young Moderators club is meeting next week- that is just one example of a great venue to engage in a bipartisan discussion on the topics you suggested. Thanks”
This ‘student voices’ rally is strictly on the topic of gun reform. For the school to restrict this being bipartisan makes me beyond angry. I do not know how to handle this situation. Where is my freedom of speech? Don’t I have the right to be able to represent all voices in this town? Any advice?
In other words, she can have her free speech as long as it’s somewhere else, in front of different people.
Farmington High School Principal Bill Silva wrote in an email to parents that the assembly has been “collaboratively planned by administrators, teachers, staff, and students.” According to Silva, “Our activity is focused on the topic of Student Voice and Positive Social Change.” The planned event will include a moment of silence, reading the names of the victims, and student speakers, according to the principal.
Silva said that the school is offering an “alternate video presentation in the auditorium, which will highlight examples of students who have used their voice to promote positive change in their communities through public service and volunteering” for students who do not wish to attend the assembly. “All students will have the choice as to which program they will attend,” he said. “In offering both of these programs, our primary goal is to ensure we have a safe and productive school day on March 14, while still providing an opportunity to recognize the importance of student voice [sic] in promoting positive change in regards to school safety and security and other social issues. Our collaborative planning with faculty, staff, and students is part of our ongoing commitment to creating a united school community that emphasizes respect, belonging, and trust.”
Ashley was part of the original planning committee for the event. In an all-too-rare gesture of goodwill, the organizer, knowing that Ashley is a strong defender of the Second Amendment, asked her to speak to represent bipartisanship.
The school administration decided to squash this attempt by reasonable people to examine the issue from all sides while showing respect for and solidarity with the victims in the Parkland shooting.
In an interview, Ashley told PJM that she was shocked by the school’s decision. “They knew that I wanted to speak on behalf of the NRA as I am a huge Second Amendment activist in my school,” she said. “I am the president of the Young Republicans club, and knowing so, the organizers of the event who wanted it to be bipartisan came to me and gave me permission to speak on behalf of the right in what was going to be a left-only rally originally.”
Ashley explained that the assembly was planned to take the place of the student walkouts that are being held in many schools across the nation next week. “The purpose of this assembly is to take the place of the walkout that will be happening nationwide on March 14,” said Ashley. “My school supports the walkout and wanted to make it safer by making it an in-school assembly that is fit into our day. When approached to speak, I was told that the assembly would be to honor the victims of the Parkland shooting last month by discussing the issue of gun reform.”
She rightly points out that this public high school is engaging in naked censorship, and she’s not happy about it. “Without me speaking, the only side that will be addressed in this assembly is the left with pro-gun control. I only wanted to make sure all voices would be heard in this assembly as I go to a public school. However, the school is censoring me due to my conservative views without even hearing me out first. Public schools cannot partake in actions of censorship, especially of political views in order to pursue their agenda.”
Ashley said, “I’m a defender of the Second Amendment as it is one of the most important rights. Our founding fathers made the Bill of Rights to protect the security of our nation as well as citizens. Without the Second Amendment, there would be no protection against our government as well as potential future uprisings of any sort.” She added, “there would be nothing to stop anyone from restricting Americans from more of their natural rights.”
Sounds like Farmington High School needs to retool its curriculum to include more civics and less teachers union pandering.