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Sex Pistols Tees Prompt High School Suspensions, Protests

Sex Pistols Tees Prompt High School Suspensions, Protests

FORKS, Wash.—The reason why so many young people can’t wait for older people to die off is because of stories like this one. Seriously, this one puts the “id” into idiocy. It all started Monday, when a female student at Forks High School in northern Washington State wore a Sex Pistols T-shirt to school. She was asked to change it, presumably by a faculty member, and that’s when the sex hit the pistol.

A friend of the girl, a former student body president named Devin Chastain, put the shirt on afterwards and refused to remove it when asked to do so. She was promptly suspended.

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"I'm suspended for three days for making a peaceful protest," Chastain said. "Sex Pistols is not a sexual innuendo. It is a homage to an important band."

That would normally be a huge “duh,” but apparently the only thing the school saw on the T-shirt were the words “sex” and “pistol,” which is something that simply cannot be tolerated.

The matter might have ended there, except that it didn’t. The next day, Tuesday, several more students donned Sex Pistols tees before the start of class, and were also summarily suspended.

The number of students suspended ranged from 10 to 25, depending on who you speak with. School Superintendent Diana Reaume said that even though the shirts violated policies in the handbook—no matter that the “Sex Pistols” term refers to a band—the suspensions were brought because of the students’ behavior.

"Because of the nature of what was on the shirts and the way in which they were distributed and how that was causing a disruption—that is when the administration took action," Reaume explained.

"The actions of the administration was responding more to the disruption than to what was written on the T-shirts," she added, exercising her right as an educator to employ excruciating grammar in an emergency.

The suspensions have led to public protests by other students. One of them actually cited Tinker v. Des Moines, the 1969 SCOTUS decision that recognized students’ First Amendment rights even while in school.

“"It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate. This has been the unmistakable holding of this Court for almost 50 years," Justice Abe Fortas wrote, for the majority.

Denay Roberts, the student who had researched her rights, told local media that she had brought the case to the attention of administration officials.

"I was basically laughed at," she said.

The mother of Devin Chastain, the student originally suspended, said she supports her daughter.

"Most of us parents are wondering if it is really that important, but if they want to fight for their rights, we are behind them," she said.

So one could rightly ask what the hell is going with a school administration that is so clueless, but what would be the point? There simply is no getting around the fact that the adults running the school believe allowing teenagers to wear T-shirts with the word “sex” on them is a greater danger than instilling in them a coherent understanding of freedom of speech. Doubling down on their ignorance only brands them an incorrigible yahoos.

On the other hand, the fact that Forks High was used to shoot the school scenes in the movie Twilight might have forced their hand. Apparently, the storyline in the novel also takes place in Forks. (Who knew?) That kind of changes everything.

Go, Spartans!






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Tom Hymes

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