Thursday, February 20, 2014

Tacoma's Wilson High Censors Pro-Life Students

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Bryce Asberg is the founder of Wilson Students For Life at Wilson High School in Tacoma, Washington.

Since he started the group last year, he has experienced considerable push back from the school administration.

The push back has boiled over.

Violating their own policies, the school censored the display the pro-life students requested. It has now become a national story.

This week the administration at Wilson High School has given us a "Profile in Hypocrisy."

And the pro-life students have responded.


Life News is reporting that in compliance with school policies, the pro-life student group asked the school for permission to hang some posters.

The school refused the request.

They said the school policy only allows posters "that do not offend staff or students, put others down if they have a different opinion, or otherwise cause disruption."

The criteria then is: 1. must not offend anyone, 2. put others down if they hold different beliefs, or 3. cause disruption.

The school administration says the pro-life posters would violate those policies. And they would "promote a message rather than solely promoting the group's meetings."

There are 2 posters the kids wanted to display. One reads "Since Roe v. Wade 1/3 of our generation has been aborted" with a picture of a milk carton and the word "missing" above the picture of a baby.

The other poster quotes President Ronald Reagan: "I've noticed that everyone who is for abortion is already born."

This is a "Profile in Hypocrisy." And it is blatantly discriminatory. And the school is censoring the pro-life kids.

This same school administration, using the same policies, has permitted the Wilson Gay Straight Alliance to hang fliers promoting homosexual relationships by featuring conjoined male symbols and conjoined female symbols and stating "Love Knows No Limits."

Does the school administration really believe this does not offend those who believe in biblical teaching on homosexual behavior?

It has also become apparent that people who do not embrace the homosexual agenda are "put down," especially in American public school classrooms. Now, in a growing way, those who do not embrace the homosexual agenda are, in some cases, in violation of the law.

Each year Wilson High School allows the Gay Straight Alliance to sponsor a "Day of Silence." Do they really believe a day where students and teachers remain silent to show their support for homosexuality is not disruptive to the process of taxpayer funded, government controlled "education"?

And do they really believe this exercise is not offensive to biblical Christians who also attend public school?

After the administration denied the Wilson Students for Life, they met with Asberg and some of the other leaders in the pro-life club to give them some "advice" as to how to best run their club.

Asberg says he left the meeting feeling like his group was encouraged to only host events after school, while other groups were allowed to do what they wanted during the school day.

How can students who hold pro-life and/or traditional biblical beliefs about marriage respond to this kind of discrimination?

Bryce Asberg has taken a step in response.

He has personally delivered a letter to the principal from the Thomas More Society demanding that they end their censorship of his group.

The school administration has until February 25---next Tuesday, to respond to the demand from the lawyers at Thomas Moore.

Peter Breen, Vice President and Senior Counsel of the Thomas More Society, told Life News, "Public schools have a duty to treat all student groups equally. Wilson High School’s current policy allows administrators to censor any messages they deem ‘offensive’—in this case, any pro-life message—while allowing other groups broad freedom of speech. The administration is violating the rights of the students involved in Wilson Students for Life, who do not lose their constitutionally protected freedom of speech when they enter the schoolhouse door.”

“The Wilson High School administration cannot be allowed to trample on the constitutional rights of Wilson Students for Life,” said Kristan Hawkins, President of Students for Life of America. “Our pro-life students will not accept their right to free speech being taken away. Sadly, this case shows that viewpoint discrimination is alive and well in today’s schools and that administrators think they can still get away with it. Students for Life of America is proud to stand with Wilson Students for Life to demand that the Wilson High School administration reverse their unjust decision and give equal treatment to all students and student groups, regardless of their views on abortion.”

Kristan Hawkins with Life News writes, "The federal Equal Access Act requires that schools give each student group the same opportunities, without discriminating against any group. In 2002, the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit held that a Washington school which gave one group access to its bulletin boards must give that access to all student groups. Moreover, a number of Supreme Court decisions, such as Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Sch. Dist., have held that students’ speech cannot be silenced simply because the administration has vague fears of disruption."

Students for Life of America is asking pro-life activists to call (253) 571-6076) and e-mail ssliva@tacoma.k12.wa.us Wilson High School Vice Principal Shane Sliva and ask him to apologize to Wilson Students for Life and end the school’s censorship of the group.

I'm asking all our readers to join Students for Life and contact the Wilson High School Vice Principal with this message. Be respectful, but firm. Your call or email will make a difference.

Be Informed. Be Pro-Active. Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Prayerful. Be Blessed.




10 comments:

  1. I am the General Counsel of the Tacoma School District and I'm responding to your post on behalf of the school and the District. There is a tremendous amount of inaccurate information being shared by an out-of-state public relations firm and law firm, so let me explain to the facts of what has occurred as the District understands them to be:

    There is an Associated Student Body (ASB) approved Pro-life student group at Wilson that was formed this school year. That group initially put up two posters without following the appropriate process that all ASB student groups are supposed to follow. School Administration and Student Life staff met with the student group to remind them of the appropriate process for poster approval and gave them guidance on what types of activates they could engage in consistent school/ASB rules and with US Supreme Court case law.

    Any ASB club can request approval to display posters, but the school does not have to agree to allow groups to display posters that (1) constitute true threats; (2) are or could cause a material and substantial disruption of the educational environment or impinge on the rights of others; (3) are vulgar, lewd, obscene or plainly offensive; or (4) promote the use of illegal drugs. Also, the administration can regulate school sponsored speech (i.e. content of newspaper, content of yearbook, content of assemblies etc). Additionally, if posters were put up that failed to identify the group whose few point was being represented, those could be taken down to ensure that it was not confused for school-sponsored speech or as the viewpoint of the school/district. All ASB groups have these same legal principles applied to them.

    Any allegation that this group was not allowed to display posters at any point is false as is any allegation that they have been denied the ability to put up posters that express a message, or a controversial message. This group (and any other ASB student club) would only be prevented from displaying posters that were not submitted through the approval process or fall within the one of the categories outlined above.

    This particular club presently has 30 Pro-life Posters displayed throughout the Wilson campus, all of which were approved through the process for all ASB club posters. 18 are invitational information to meetings with times and dates and 12 reflect a message of the group. Some of those 30 posters include ones that would likely be considered to be controversial or offensive to some people (including posters with depictions of fetuses and embryos). They are up because the school administration determined that they were not be disruptive, obscene, or any other category of speech that is not permissible in the public school setting. There are only two other club posters up in the school: one Gay Strait Alliance Club and one Yoga Club. 30 of the 32 club posters are those of this club. Considering this, it is definitely surprising that the Pro-life group is asserting that they are being denied the opportunity that has been given to other student clubs.

    To date, the Pro-life group has been given permission to do every activity they have requested. They sought and received approval to hold a diaper drive, though to my knowledge they have not held it. They were planning to host a guest speaker, but the speaker cancelled due to weather. They talked about wanting to do a candle light vigil, but have to date not actually requested the ability to do that on school grounds. It is my understanding that the group never asked to do a "Day of Silence" as is being claimed. If they wanted to do so, they could so long as their conduct was not disruptive of the educational environment.

    I hope that provides you all greater clarity as to facts of this matter.

    Shannon McMinimee
    General Counsel
    Tacoma Public Schools

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  2. Could you provide an email and or phone number?

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  3. I wrote this: Dear Mr. Sliva.
    I am a 30-year veteran teacher of the public school system of Washington. I graduated in 1968 from the University of Washington with a K-12 certificate. Later I got a master's degree in administration. One of the things most impressed on me during my administrative coursework was that schools were to be a place where all views were handled on a fair and equal basis.
    It appears that the pro-life group's request was not handled in this way. Their posters are not "offensive" nor are they "controversial." They are simply one group's beliefs. They have every right to be part of the public forum.
    Those beliefs may be different from yours or from many at the school; however, that is no reason to censor them. I hope that you can see your way clear to end the school’s censorship of this pro-life group.

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  4. There is an email address andd a phone number in the post.

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  5. I wonder if schools still pledge allegiance to the flag in schools. I was thinking about Roe v Wade, and was also thinking that in that decision, we sure could have used a little more liberty and justice for all right there, because too much power was given to the mother and she could have used it, and where is the justice for the unborn there?

    Speaking of too much power or abuse of power, couldn't a president strike down the Roe v Wade decision, or the result of that decision by executive order?

    Isn't that what balance of power is about with the 3 branches of government?

    I think a president should talk to congress first, but still....didn't something go wrong with the Row v Wade deal?

    We need a remedy, and many of us wait to see our constitution used the way it was meant to be used for such times as these.

    Do the words "liberty and justice for all" mean anything anymore? To me it would seem a little weird saying those words in a pledge of allegiance while thinking about Roe v Wade.

    Maybe somebody could make a poster or something.

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  6. I like the milk carton one. It makes one think. I wonder where the missing children are. Maybe they are in heaven wondering what we are going to do.

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  7. America may seem like it's on the dry side of the hill right now, but there is a new generation getting up. I've been hearing that song, "Green Green (the far side of the hill)"

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  8. So let's do the math....Being pro life is controversial but homosexual relationships is not? Or, Being pro life and trying to wake people up to righteousness might be considered offensive if not done in the right manner, but homosexual relationships is not offensive to somebody?

    It seems to me that those educators need to re-test.

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  9. Dear Shannon McMinimee, Thank you for clarifying your decision. So basically you're saying if the poster had been ID'd correctly with marks of the group, you would have allowed it? ProLife Group: Please ID the posters and request permission again.

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  10. I should think that the school should have encouraged the group's poster that was speaking up against abortion, putting up the poster and then asking them to ID it, and then take down the offensive one the gay activists put up, explaining to them the difference between something that is a right, and something that is not.

    A right is something that....well here's some words my dictionary uses to describe the word: not curved, straight, in accordance with justice, law, morality ,etc. upright , virtuous, {(right) conduct}, in accordance with fact, reason, some set standard, etc. correct, true, correct in thought, statement or action, suitable, fitting, appropriate, favorable, meant to be seen, designating the finished, principal or upper side, sound, normal, mentally sound, having sound health, or good spirits, in a satisfactory condition, sane, .....this goes on and on, but the point being that for something to truly be a right, it really should be right.

    The homo sexual agenda is not right. It fails on every count, so no matter what the local worldly laws saw about a thing, if it is offensive, not sound, crooked and not straight, not in accordance with justice, right law, or morality.....etc. then such things will not be posted, encouraged, etc., so though something might be considered a "right" out there....it's not necessarily considered right here, and we don't have to be for whatever is wrong.

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