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Author Topic: Always in the brown water, just the depth that varies.
HRE
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My high school had Open House tonight. Depending on when people came, they may have noticed me seated behind the rather impressive display for the GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) -- or they may have noticed a big lack of such a display. The story is as such:

All clubs are asked -- no, required -- to have a display for open house. They are then all put in the cafeteria with representatives from the club.

I had a lot of help with ours. In fact, it was pretty much taken over and made by some wonderful girls with artistic talent -- which I lack. It was made of two columns with a cross-beam on top.

On the left side, it had our mission statement, Officers, and meeting time & place. Our mission statement:

To promote tolerance of all lifestyles, open-mindedness, and respect among students.

On the top, it said GSA -- the name of our club.

On the right, it had a summary of this FAQ. Offended yet? I didn't think so.

I set it up after school at around 4:00 and came back at 5:00. In that time, they had come and removed the right side. Someone from the club had seen it and replaced it, not knowing who had removed it.

They came back and took it away, explaining that it violated the charter the founder of the GSA had signed last year to bring it into existence. I accepted that, and sat for close to an hour with half a display.

Then I thought, "Wait. If Sarabrynn (our founder) had signed a charter or agreement of any kind, she would have told me when she left and handed over the club presidency."

I called SB and asked her. She said that she had never seen nor signed a charter or document of any sort. I told her what was on the poster, and she said that was what she and Mrs. Gunderman (our Principal) had explicitly agreed to.

I put the poster back up. Long story short, they showed up again and took it down. The conversation went like this:

Mrs. G: Who is the President of this Club?
Me: I am.
G: Who put the display back up?
M: I did.
G: Were you aware I had taken it down?
M: Yes.
G: Were you aware I had said it should not be put back up?
M: Yes. I do not feel as if you justified your decision adequately.
G: I don't have to justify my decisions to you.
M: Why was it taken down?
G: We're not talking about this now. If I cannot trust the officers of this club, I will have it disbanded.

Some background on this: Sarabrynn fought tooth and nail to start this club, and they pulled every dirty, underhanded trick in the book. She won. Now, apparentley, they think that simply because the club is under new admistration, they can pull it again. They are very, very wrong.

End result: I have a meeting with her tomorrow. I will not cede. I will not apologize. I will not lose this fight.

I figure that the most she can get me on is insubordination, but I seem to recall a Supreme Court case -- I'm thinking it was Tinker -- where SCOTUS said that the administration of a school is not a tyranny over the students; with cause, we can object.

Anyone recall exactly what case that was?

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Tante Shvester
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You are fighting a brave fight. Rock on!
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ketchupqueen
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I hate it when schools try to mess with students.
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HRE
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Ah! Found it!

"...state-operated schools may not be enclaves of totalitarianism. School officials do not possess absolute authority over their students. Students in school as well as out of school are 'persons' under our Constitution." U.S. Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas, Tinker v. Des Moines School District (1969)

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kojabu
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Good luck! Schools can be the devil, I hope you win.
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erosomniac
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HRE - I fully support what you're doing, but be prepared to have it affect every other aspect of your scholastic life, including your ability to graduate. I fought a similar battle (for a different cause) and in the end, I backed down purely because the cost was no longer worth the reward.
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Enigmatic
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Fight the school tooth and nail, HRE!
Or, better yet, with determination and law.

Then later, when you have more time, ask Dkw about post-secondary, weighted grades, and the top 10.

--Enigmatic

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ketchupqueen
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I sense a story here...
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HRE
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As do I...
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HRE
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Well, I printed out Tinker vs. Des Moines and namely that quote printed out and in my backpack. I hope it doesn't get to a point where I even have to mention it -- I want this to be settled civilly and peacefully.

I'm just waiting now for this meeting. She didn't tell me when it would be, so I imagine she'll just show up at one of my classes sometime...

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foundling
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Hey, how did this go? Any updates?
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Dagonee
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That quote is fine for persuasion, but it has no force in this situation. If you present it, don't try to pretend this "proves" that you have the right to form the club.
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El JT de Spang
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The club has already been formed; I don't think anyone's disputing that 'right'.

I don't see how the quote doesn't apply - the relevant part is that students are still constitutionally protected, and can't be threatened for no reason.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you mean by 'force'.

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Treason
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Damn the "Man"! [Big Grin]

You are absolutely right! Dont give up!

I'm with you in spirit. I applaud your decision to not back down, good for you.

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Dagonee
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quote:
The club has already been formed; I don't think anyone's disputing that 'right'.
Maybe I misunderstood, but I thought you were threatened with disbanding. The right to form would be the right to keep it formed as well.

quote:
I don't see how the quote doesn't apply - the relevant part is that students are still constitutionally protected, and can't be threatened for no reason.
I simply mean that the decision you quoted, and the specific sentence, does not lead inevitably to the conclusion that you have the right to continue the club and to present your ideas at parent-teacher right.

I think there's probably a good case to be made in your favor, but that quote works far more pwoerfully as persuasion than as an attempt to show the law is on your side.

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HRE
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The quote is not meant to show that the club can be continued. That's guaranteed under the Equal Access Act.

I think she'll ignore the actual problem at hand and just try to nail me for insubordination -- rejecting her direct order -- in which case the quote would come in handy.

She did not contact me on Friday, when she said she would. Neither did her administrator that she said would be getting me. I came into contact with them many times, and they said nothing.

I have a hunch that they're trying to brush the situation over now, hoping I'll be too meek to pursue it. They accomplished their real goal -- they kept us out of Open House. I think they're hoping I'll just drop it instead of forcing the cards, which I'll be doing tomorrow.

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dabbler
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Good luck. I hope things work out for you and the group.
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El JT de Spang
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quote:
I simply mean that the decision you quoted, and the specific sentence, does not lead inevitably to the conclusion that you have the right to continue the club and to present your ideas at parent-teacher right.
I gotcha.
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Nell Gwyn
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Wow, that's some nerve, on both your part and theirs! Yours is definitely admirable nerve, however. Go, you!! [Big Grin]

Just out of curiosity, do you go to a public or private high school? And might that have any influence on how much say the administration has in students' rights of this sort? (The second question is aimed more at the legal-types - Dagonee?)

Anyway, good luck with the fight! I'm interested to see what happens.

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Book
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My school did the exact same thing with a gay student. He wrote some paper about coming out and being true to yourself and whatever, and it got published in the yearbook and they just flipped out. Hooray Texas.

Course, not to be cruel, but every single person on our faculty was a male football player who went to AtM. How cliched.

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Dagonee
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Public/private makes a huge difference in first amendment type cases. I'm not sure how much difference it makes in equal access act cases.
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Enigmatic
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HRE, I think one of the main points you should bring up if you want to force the issue is that whichever school official (it wasn't entirely clear in the OP) was making you take the poster down flat-out lied to you about the reason. Ask them to produce this charter document they claimed you were violating, so that you have a reference to avoid similar infractions of it in the future.

Certainly, if they say the previous president signed it and you were violating it somehow, they shouldn't object to you having a copy of the document? Only so that you can do your best to abide by the agreement and be a model student, after all.

--Enigmatic

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HRE
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I go to a Public School.


This fight is getting more and more difficult, because the Principal changes what shes says she said about every half hour. It's getting ridiculous, and I'm feeling continually more helpless.

She's changed her story more times than I can count, and refuses to put it to paper. I feel like I'm fighting a phantom.

At one point, she said that she disbanded our club because we had broken the papers we signed to form the club. These papers said when and where we met and what our mission was. When another officer later offered to retreive the paper so we could discuss it, she said that would be great because she had never seen it.

My jaw just about hit the floor.

How can they pull this stuff? How do they think they can just walk away with it? Do they think we're imbeciles? That we can't keep track of what they say?

She said that there was a problem with our discussing 'homosexual rights and marriage' because it was a discussion of 'individual sexual acts'. She later said that it was right and proper that we should be discussing homosexual marriage, as Georgia was passing an amendment on the matter last year.

She said that she was disbanding the club because I had been insubordinate and she could not have a club where she cannot trust the officers, then she said that a single person's transgression cannot be held against the club.

In the course of an hour and a half long meeting, I said about twenty words. I was simply to frustrated and amazed to speak.

How on earth do I fight a vapor? How do I make a point against an amorphous, undefined, shape-shifting idea?

We had planned on changing the GSA to a broader campaign, a Civil Rights Club. Normally, I would say that I should just drop the GSA and get on with the CRC. Why should I fight to resurrect a club I was going to end anyways?

But this just feels so wrong, like there is a massive injustice occurring and it has to be fought.

What on earth do I do?

I think I will withdraw my position from the club, allow the officers to get on with the CRC, and fight this independentley. I cannot let them do this...I just can't let this slide.

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ElJay
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Good luck, HRE.
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Tante Shvester
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You aren't fighting a phantom, you are fighting bigotry. The principal just has a hard time saying "I want this club disbanded because I am a bigot". Keep on doing the right thing.
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Tante Shvester
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And by the way, when I was in public High School, we had a club for homosexual students. We met after school with a gay teacher, who was our student adviser. We had parties and put on shows. I'm surprised that your school doesn't have this.

We called it "Drama Club".

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Dagonee
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quote:
How on earth do I fight a vapor? How do I make a point against an amorphous, undefined, shape-shifting idea?
You can't and she knows this. That's why she's doing it.

Has she officially disbanded the club? If so, ask her to outline the process for appeal. Don't ask if it can be appealed. Ask, "to whom and in what form do I submit my appeal." If she says there is no appeal, ask her if you can get that in writing. You need to exhaust your internal appeals before further action can be taken.

If she hasn't officially disbanded the club, you are going to have to decide exactly what it is you want from her. Then you need to demand it - in writing, politely, with no threats and on official forms - and wait for her response. In the meantime, act according to your charter - whatever that is - or the general rules for clubs. Ask permission for meeting times from whatever authority handles reserving rooms.

What you want is for the principal to take concrete action. This might be in the form of a denial of a room reservation for a meeting or the denial of some other resource that you have to request in writing.

Then you can take action of some kind.

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Teshi
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Holy crumpets. There has to be some kind of law against this.

Good luck!

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James Tiberius Kirk
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quote:
What on earth do I do?
Two words: Local media.

--j_k

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Dagonee
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Don't go to the local media until you have something more specific and have exhausted internal appeals. This principal sounds like she will dig in harder, and the school board may rally around her if there is local media.
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HRE
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I'm still trying to keep it as low-key as possible.

The former president of the club found out, and took it upon herself to inform the Georgia ACLU. She has the personal home phone number of the head of the GACLU. They're friends.

So, now I have to keep the ACLU out of this. You can't win some one over by threatening them with a lawsuit....

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