Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Posting No Bills In Troy, New York

There is quite a controversy about some classroom posters at Troy High School:
A poster at Troy High School that reads "Gay People are Everyday People" appears to be multiplying instead of coming down.

Some parents have been fighting the Troy School District for more than a year to have the poster removed from an English classroom, claiming it promotes sexuality and a homosexual lifestyle.

But the maker of the poster said the school's English department has decided to go the other direction, ordering 25 more copies.

"Now there's going to be 26 at the school," said Leslie Thompson, executive director of Ferndale-based Affirmations Gay/Lesbian Community Center, which distributes the posters.

"I'm really rather proud of the district, the school and the teachers for standing by their gay students," she said. "(The poster) is really a strong message for those kids."

District spokesman Tim McAvoy confirmed that at least four new posters went up recently.

The poster originally went up in 2003 at the request of the student group Human Equal Rights Organization, which was doing a project on tolerance. It portrays five teenagers surrounded by photos of professionals such as caterers, mail carriers, musicians and teachers.
I see several issues in play here. As a classroom teacher in a small, somewhat conservative, desert community in California, I would not display anything in my own classroom that any large segment of our community would find offensive. I firmly believe that I work for the parents of our community.

Even though dealing with such a controversy may provide some valuable life-lessons for my students, it would also be a major distraction from my primary mission of teaching the district/state adopted content-area standards.

In this age of increased accountability for teachers, I can't afford such disruptions of my educational program.

Regarding the controversy at Troy High School, the display of one poster by one teacher could be thought of as a case of First Amendment freedom of speech Vs. Community Standards. Having said that,
I believe that the school's ordering of an additional 25 posters is an unnecessary provocation.

I'm frankly puzzled why the school's administration has tacitly approved of this course of action, which can only serve to exasperate the situation.

It would be interesting to know the school board's position on this matter.
Submissions for The Carnival of Education: Week 17, should be sent to owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net no later then 10:00 PM (Pacific) Tonight. The Carnival should open here at The Wonks Wednesday morning.

Main Page/Latest Posts