Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, Ill. has a policy that “allows speech in favor of homosexual conduct, but bans speech critical of homosexual conduct,” according to his lawyers. I presume that the policy is a little less radical than that, but nevertheless, we get the point. The school wants to promote diversity, so it prohibits hate speech.
A couple of bigoted students decided to wear anti-gay t-shirts on the “Annual Day of Silence,” an event that gay rights groups promote to bring attention to discrimination against homosexuals. The school decided that these shirts violated its policy. A noble thought, but (when will academics learn?) it runs afoul of the First Amendment.
The two little bigots filed suit against the school, and the 7th Circuit ruled that the high school must lift its ban while the trial progresses.
“We cannot accept the defendants’ argument that the rule is valid because all it does is protect the ‘rights’ of the students against whom derogatory comments are directed,” states the court’s opinion, authored by Judge Richard Posner. “Of course a school can – often it must – protect students from the invasion of their legal rights by other students. But people do not have a legal right to prevent criticism of their beliefs or for that matter their way of life.” (source)
While I think that the plaintiffs are likely future hitler-youth types, that might make me dislike them, but the First Amendment applies to them as much as anyone else.
Question: Why the hell isn’t Posner on the Supreme Court?
HT to Above the Law.