Amy Sorrell, who taught journalism at Woodlan High School, in Indiana, for four years has started a new job teaching at a private school a few miles away. She was asked to leave her job after one of her students wrote a piece for the school newspaper which sympathized with homosexuals. Sorrell was publisher of the paper.
A sophomore wrote the editorial for the Woodlan Tomahawk after a friend told her he was gay. Part of it read, “it is so wrong to look down on those people, or to make fun of them, just because they have a different sexuality than you.” The article also noted suicide rates for gay youth and questioned religious condemnation of homosexuality.
U.S. high school administrators can legally censor material before it’s published. In the 1988 case “Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier,” the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that school-financed publications are not official public forums and, therefore, should have lesser First Amendment protections than independent newspapers.
Jackie Suess, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana said, “The purpose of a journalism class is to teach First Amendment values and not to teach kids about censorship and prior review.”
Photo: Joe Raymond, AP