Indio, California – A group of students at Shadow Hills High School in Indio, California added images of a rainbow pattern crossed out by a circle with a red line through it to their ID badges.
Now the use of these images is being discussed, some say the symbols are protected as free speech, others expressed concern to the school’s administration and asked them to stop the kids from wearing the badges.
Even though many, including school staff, has opposed to the practice adopted by a handful of students as they consider it homophobic expression, school administrators first claimed they didn’t believe they can force the students to remove the pins citing freedom of speech protections.
“After consulting with district level personnel and our legal counsel, it was determined that these students do have the protected right to freedom of speech, just as students portraying rainbows in support of the LGBT would,” administrators wrote in an email to staff.
Some teachers believe this situation is the perfect opportunity to educate their students about tolerance. David Parsons, a Spanish and advanced placement literature teacher at Shadow Hills said this was not just about dealing with the five or six kids. It’s trying to change the culture to help the students feel emboldened to say to their classmates ‘Hey, that’s not OK. That’s not appropriate.
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After first saying the symbols were protected as free speech, the school said new information has been brought forward that requires additional investigation and follow-up to determine a proper course of action. Not only that, the school added that during the course of investigations they were going to ask students who are displaying the symbol to remove symbols while at school, at least for now.