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San Juan High School, Citrus Heights, Calif.
Parents, students and church leaders packed out a school board meeting in California last night after more than 100 suspensions were issued to students wearing T-shirts with biblical quotations against sodomy and homosexuality.
Students at San Juan High School in Citrus Heights, Calif., say they want to resolve the issue amid protests, suspensions and censorship of religious messages that have continued weeks after the school observed a national event promoted by homosexual activists, the “Day of Silence.”
One shirt that caused an uproar was emblazoned with, “Don’t touch God’s rainbow.”
The student said he wore the shirt to school because he was offended homosexual activists had stolen the biblical symbol of promise and turned it into an icon of perversion.
As WND reported, the school district took the position that if the shirt is offensive to anyone, it cannot be worn. Because a particular message comes from the Bible, officials said, doesn’t mean it’s automatically acceptable in schools.
Local Christian leaders, working with an attorney through the non-profit Pacific Justice Institute, created a resolution asking the board to protect students’ right to freedom of speech and religious expression on campus.
Board member Larry Masuoka presented the resolution at the meeting. Parents and students demanded that their fundamental right to free speech and religious expression be upheld, and students told of being harassed by peers and teachers because of their message.
The resolution reads:
As Christian students enrolled at the San Juan Unified School District and members of student religious clubs, we seek to resolve an ongoing conflict regarding free expression on high school campuses. To this end, we respectfully submit this request as follows:
Whereas, there is an ongoing disagreement between students and District administrators, teachers and staff, regarding the rights to free expression on high school campuses;
Whereas, Christian students have worn clothing and distributed literature which the District asserts offends students who are homosexual or otherwise identify themselves as “gay” or “lesbian”;
Whereas, students who have engaged in expressive conduct have been subject to discipline, including suspensions;
Whereas, students who have been subject to discipline for peacefully engaging in expressive conduct have protested in front of school campuses;
Whereas, Christian students who engage in peaceful expressive conduct on matters of contemporary moral, political and social topics are acting in accordance with a long tradition within the faith community;
Whereas, proposed laws addressing issues directly related to homosexuality are currently being debated in California;
Whereas, attempts to silence students by punishing or otherwise censoring them has served to aggravate the disagreement between Christian students and the District;
Whereas, as people of faith it is our religious and civic duty to not be silent on important issues;
Whereas, we will continue to exercise our rights of speech on District campuses, both as individuals and through student clubs;
Whereas, as Christians we also seek to live at peace with all of our fellow students and District employees;
Whereas, we believe that all peaceable students are entitled to educational opportunities regardless of their beliefs;
Whereas, students should not be subjected to bullying by other students, discipline by administrators, or academic punishment by teachers merely for what they believe and for peacefully expressing those beliefs;
Whereas, the students and religious clubs are desirous of obtaining an agreement with the District which both protects student speech and maintains an atmosphere which is civil;
Therefore, we respectfully request that the Board of Trustees direct District administrators to draft general guidelines for expressive conduct to be presented for review to the Board at the next board meeting. In view of this, the Christian students have these requirements for the guidelines as follows:
- permit students to speak to moral issues and conduct;
- permit quotations from religious texts such as the Bible; and,
- create a safe, educationally sound, environment for all students regardless of belief.