A group of conservative public school students is suing their school district for violating their First Amendment rights after their high school disbanded their Young Conservatives Club after they posted a video on a social media site showing some of their classmates sitting at a Veterans Day assembly during the playing of the national anthem.
The students say that the vaguely written policy used to shut them down could be used to “compel speech.”
The GroupMe post apparently drew several “disparaging and racist” comments. But as the students pointed out, the site was open to people who weren’t even members of the club.
Someone else, using the handle Edina High School Anti-Fascists and wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, posted an image of the GroupMe posting on a since-deleted YouTube video and threatened the members of the Young Conservatives Club, the plaintiffs allege.
The club’s president, Nick Spades, complained to Edina High School principal Andrew Beaton about the threatening YouTube message. He said the principal demanded he show him the GroupMe posting, and after viewing it told him that the posting of the protesters — as well as the disparaging comments — violated the school’s policies.
Spade said the principal then demanded he not only delete the GroupMe site, but also disband the Young Conservatives Club or face discipline for being in violation of an unspecified policy.
“Our club was disbanded … because we were accused of being intolerant of student protesters during a Veterans Day assembly at our school,” Spades said. “This complete lack of respect, and the fact that school administration did nothing about it, is one of the reasons that we’re here today.”
The district said in a statement that it “respects and adheres to state statute and federal law in regard to the free speech rights of all students and staff.” A school spokeswoman declined to comment on the specific allegations made in the lawsuit.
But the district said in a statement it “respects and adheres to state statute and federal law in regard to the free speech rights of all students and staff and welcomes opportunities for ongoing discourse and respectful debate on topics of importance to our stakeholders.”
Question: How can you welcome “opportunities for ongoing discourse and respectful debate” when you gag the opposition?
The KARE 11 report shows student protesters sitting during the playing of “Taps” — on Veterans Day:
I would think those sitting students deserved every ounce of disparagement they got. Of course, there’s never an excuse for racism, but the intolerance of the school principal and stupidity of the school district make it legitimate to question what their idea of “racist” means. Our experience with those who claim “racism” in what someone says suggests the political content of the comment rather than any specific racial reference was probably what they were objecting to.
I think the conservative students expect too much of their high school in asking them to punish those who sat during “Taps.” But to shut off all debate on the matter by banning a group opposing the sitting students is beyond belief. Banning the most visible group opposing the protesters only serves to chill the free speech of others who might be inclined to agree with the conservatives but are intimidated into silence.