Inderkum High, one of several Sacramento schools where Christian students were penalized for objecting to the “Day of Silence” homosexual advocacy
At least another 75 students have been suspended from school in California for wearing shirts that expressed their biblically-based opposition to homosexuality, and the district that, as WND reported, has been imposing the punishments, says those quotations aren’t necessarily acceptable because they are from God’s Word.
That’s the verdict from San Juan Unified School District Superintendent Steven Enoch, according to lawyers for the Pacific Justice Institute, which is working on behalf of the students.
The suspensions were begun on April 18 when the homosexual lobby-supported “Day of Silence” was observed in public schools in California – and across the nation.
An unknown number of students but at least dozens and perhaps hundreds of students were suspended for that day when they arrived wearing T-shirts proclaiming the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality, and PJI lawyer Kevin Snider was launched into action.
Those disagreements have been resolved in one or two cases, but continue escalating in others, including at San Juan, where another 50 students were suspended on Monday for wearing the shirts, and there were reports that several dozen more were punished yesterday.
Peter Ganchenko, a deacon in a local church, reported yesterday that “approximately 25 more students have been suspended for expressing their religious beliefs on campus … at San Juan High School.”
“The [San Juan] school is taking the position that if it’s offensive [to anyone] you can’t wear it,” Snider told WND. “The school superintendent [said] just because something comes from the Bible doesn’t give it carte blanche to be acceptable in schools.”
The students have been wearing T-shirts proclaiming their Biblical views, he said. “They had a quote from Jesus, ‘If you love me you will keep my commandments.”
The students also wore shirts with other Bible verses, including 1 Corinthians 6:9-10: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”
Other slogans included the quotation from the Old Testament Law that speaks of homosexuality as an “abomination,” he said. But the school also allows T-shirts promoting homosexuality, too, with messages such as “I’m gay,” he noted.
“The heart of the issue is will the people of faith be allowed to speak to moral issues. That is [as opposed to] the school’s [stated] desire that students don’t target other classes of people,” Snider said.
In a prepared statement that was delivered later to WND, Enoch said his first concern is to see students return to class.
“Our challenge is to balance two fundamental rights that, in this case, are conflicting with each other,” he said. “Schools have a legal responsibility to protect all of our students from being placed in an atmosphere of fear or intimidation. We also recognize our students’ right to free expression.
“I support our students’ desire to debate complex and even controversial issues, but that conversation must take place without disrupting the educational environment, singling out a specific group of students, or creating an atmosphere of fear for anyone. This applies to students on both sides of a debate,” he wrote.
PJI reported that Monday’s confrontation involved school officials and almost 50 students who were suspended, then held for more than four hours in the school library.
That sparked a protest in front of the school involving another 100 people, PJI reported.
Snider said the conversations for a resolution included students, parents and local ministers as well as school officials.
“A partial resolution of the matter was negotiated in which [Monday’s] suspensions, as well as those from last week, will be expunged,” PJI said.
“We applaud the school administrators for negotiating in good faith to clear this first hurdle,” Snider said. “However, the question as to whether Christian students can speak with a clear voice on moral issues without sanctions in the public schools is still a matter of concern.”
Snider said area pastors who are spiritual shepherds to students in the school will continue meeting to discuss their legal options as well as their obligations to minister to the community.
“Christian students are entitled to the same free speech protections as any other students,” said Brad Dacus, president of PJI. “Consequently, the flagrant intolerance by school districts must not go unchallenged.”
Snider said he doesn’t see a quick resolution, even though other school districts have worked that direction already.
The issues initially arose at Inderkum, Rio Linda and San Juan high schools during the event promoted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network organization, which advocates for the homosexual lifestyle and promotes educating children in that choice.
During that event, students go around school during the day without speaking, and they hand out cards stating they are protesting the “discrimination” against the homosexual lifestyle.
Many schools allow such activities without penalty, and as WND has reported, California lawmakers again are reviewing legislation that would make such advocacy mandatory for public schools in that state.
Snider said an estimated 3,000-4,000 Sacramento area students remained out of class to protest the GLSEN event on April 18. Others attended and many “did some sort of speech activities on the Day of Silence or the days following.”
He said at the time some students were suspended and some were simply sent home without formal punishment. At least one district abruptly halted its punishments when PJI contacted officials while another district “rounded up” students and held them for several hours, then released them without recording any punishment.
A fourth area school later became involved in suspending students for wearing Christian T-shirts, Snider said.
Snider said there easily could be a multitude of individual lawsuits that eventually could result.
“In the past, students who have attempted to speak against the promotion of the homosexual agenda have been censored or, in some cases, punished for their beliefs,” the ADF, which reported an increase in program registrations by nearly one-third, said on its website.
“It is important that students stand up for their First Amendment right to hear and speak the truth about human sexuality in order to protect that freedom for future generations,” the ADF said.
Those students wear T-shirts and pass out cards during non-instructional time with messages such as: “Silence isn’t freedom; it’s a constraint.”