Student Suspended for Saying Homosexuality is Wrong: VIDEO

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A Texas student has been suspended for telling a friend during a class discussion of homosexuality, "I'm a Christian and, to me, being homosexual is wrong."

Fourteen-year-old Dakota Ary, an honor student and football player, has become an instant cause celebre among conservatives. Liberty Counsel, a right-wing defense firm, helped him clear his permanent record and get the suspension reduced to a day:

Ary's lawyer, Matthew Krause, said the suspension was unjustified and that Ary is entitled to express his opinion on homosexuality in school.

"Just because you walk through the schoolhouse doors does not mean you shed your 1st Amendment rights," Krause said in a statement. "Dakota wasn't disrupting class. He wasn't bullying or harassing anybody. He was just stating his personal opinion on a topic somebody brought up and in a civil and respectful manner." (...)

It all began in Ary's German class, where the teacher was leading the students in a discussion about religion in Germany.

According to a statement from Liberty Counsel, one student asked what Germans thought about homosexuality in relation to religion. Another student asked to hear the German translation of "lesbian."

That's when Ary turned to a friend and said, "I'm a Christian and, to me, being homosexual is wrong," the teenager said in a television interview on Fox News earlier this week.  

"It wasn't directed to anyone except my friend who was sitting behind me," he said. "I guess [the teacher] heard me and started to yell about it."

I'd be more inclined to symphatize if the conservatives showed any interest whatever in the endemic homophobia of the American school system and the gay children committing suicide because of bullying.

Nonetheless, I think Ary acted within his First Amendment rights by making a private remark to a nearby classmate in response to an open question about religion and homosexuality. And the teacher could have handled it the right way by addressing the remark calmly, and using it to start up a civil discussion. Merely suppressing an opinion does no one any good - it certainly doesn't change minds.

Did he deserve a suspension at all? Or am I all wrong?


Student Suspended for Saying Gay Is Wrong:

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  1. Whether we agree or disagree with someone's mistaken perceptions, and even ignorance, overreacting is not the route to take.

    As an educator I have always used these incidents to start dialogue among the students...providing a safe haven where ideas and point of views can be exchanged in a safe, secure and non-judgmental manner.

    An opportunity was lost, I'm afraid...while also giving the forces of intolerance yet more ammunition to continue their heartless and hateful campaign against us.

    Posted by: Arturo Beeche | Sep 24, 2011 12:03:43 PM

  2. Well, with a name like Dakota he himself is destined to become one of those awful, sinful homosexuals. With that gay-face he's sporting and that vacant, I'm hiding something look, I'd say he's well on his way! The Toni home perm doesn't help either!

    Posted by: Sarah | Sep 24, 2011 12:04:47 PM

  3. Of course he doesn't deserve to be suspended. Suspension is ridiculous and does nothing to address his skewed worldview. This was a teaching opportunity missed.

    Posted by: David | Sep 24, 2011 12:04:47 PM

  4. Freedom of speech means freedom of offensive speech, or it means nothing at all. That's the price we have to pay for living in a free society. We can be objectionable to others, and others can be objectionable to us. The law sometimes must allow what honor forbids.

    Posted by: Yeek | Sep 24, 2011 12:04:57 PM

  5. Without more evidence I can’t form an opinion on this story. You quote the accused, Fox News and the Liberty Counsel, none of which are reliable witnesses in this instance. The fact that the suspension was “reduced to 1 day” suggests that there is more to this story than Fox chooses to selectively report. Right Wingers are notorious for slanted reporting that highlights their personal biases and I’m surprised TowleRoad would present this story as is without seeking out the voices of the teacher or the school or the other students.

    No one should be suspended for voicing a personal opinion in school but how do we know that’s what happened here?

    Posted by: Goober Peas | Sep 24, 2011 12:11:11 PM

  6. Unfettered freedom of speech in class for everybody! Yeah. "I hate Math so let's talk about what me and my girl did last night in my bedroom while my parents were out. I think all teachers are really stupid. What do they know about anything. Look, they're up there talking about all this gay Math stuff. Let's go beat up some gays and foreigners after school. Oh, you don't want me to talk out of turn or when you're lecturing? Well, I have freedom of speech so SHUT UP." I don't see how anything could go wrong...

    Posted by: Hue-Man | Sep 24, 2011 12:12:16 PM

  7. Being a lifelong Texan...I call BS! I highly doubt any Texas school would suspend a student for expressing such an opinion. Details have been left out for sure...

    Posted by: txtonyb | Sep 24, 2011 12:16:52 PM

  8. Except, he wasn't suspended. He was given 2 days detention, which the Liberty Counsel lawyer got reduced to one day. All the other news reports say Ary was given detention. Big deal. Only FOX says he was suspended, and they couch it in, "Ary says he was suspended." Not the school. And in the video they call it "in-school suspension.' Which is actually detention.
    Whether or not the punishment fit the crime, everyone's the loser here, most of all Dakota Ary, who has now learned that you can do anything and get a lawyer to make it better, that you can lie, and that in the country, celebrity is much better than being honorable, honest, or right.

    Posted by: David Badash | Sep 24, 2011 12:18:54 PM

  9. mmmm Let's see, learning German, hates Homos, blonde tussles, he is either off to some supremacist Kamp in Idaho or to Bel Ami studios in Prague once he is 18!!

    Posted by: alexInBoston | Sep 24, 2011 12:20:11 PM

  10. probably a story developed by faux news to start a controversy . you know fair and balanced reporting.

    Posted by: walter | Sep 24, 2011 12:21:00 PM

  11. Bigots are always entitled to their bigotry. White kids should be permitted to say blacks are lazy. And Blacks should be able to say Hispanics smell. And gay kids should be permitted to say fundamentalists are stupid and superstitious. And let's let the hate roll!

    Where do adults stop it? An intervention would have likely been better than a suspension, but right wingers don't want to stop it. They love the hate they engender.

    Posted by: candideinnc | Sep 24, 2011 12:21:31 PM

  12. Sounds like they were having an open and educational experience when the xtian kid had to bring on the judgement.

    Also, since xtians like to play the victim, perhaps we should just start feeding them to lions again, to remind them when it feels like to actually be one... maybe then they'll shut up.

    Posted by: Bravo | Sep 24, 2011 12:23:09 PM

  13. Interesting that this happened in Texas, and that the Liberty Counsel was so "Conveniently" present along with Fox News! I just do not see a Texas HS Principal effecting this without some underlying support or direction... as someone posted earlier "I wouldn't rule out a Right Wing attempt at a First Amendment Battle of Christianist views vs protected anti gay speech...." Thoughts anyone?

    Posted by: AJSuffolk | Sep 24, 2011 12:24:03 PM

  14. could be more to this story but it's probably an overzealous liberal teacher squashing free speech. it happens.


    @sarah. you're not helping with your juvenile caca-throwing. goes for the rest of the 'mos who trot out the tired "you're a latent homo" bit. (suspicions about marcus bachmann excluded)

    Posted by: gomez | Sep 24, 2011 12:24:18 PM

  15. They study German in Texas?!?

    Posted by: gr8guyca | Sep 24, 2011 12:26:07 PM

  16. The kids gets detention and the parents bring in an attorney? What ever happened with the parents meeting with the teacher, a guidance counselor and the Principal? And Fox News is conveniently all over this? Something stinks!

    Posted by: Oliver | Sep 24, 2011 12:30:25 PM

  17. Of course there is a standard of classroom behavior. If a student is delivering unsolicited opinions on subjects unrelated to the class in question, or going out of his way to rebuke students who want no interaction with him, then of course he should be reprimanded.

    From the information that has been presented (which may or may not be accurate), it was a class discussion on homosexuality, and someone asked his opinion on the subject. If these were in fact the conditions of the event, then punishment for answering is not appropriate.

    The inevitable hyperbolic comparisons to making random antigay comments during math class are willfully tangential at best. The aggressively polarizing fundamentalist mindset is not just a blight that strikes christians.

    Posted by: Yeek | Sep 24, 2011 12:30:41 PM

  18. Good thing he didn't say that Hitler was right. I also feel bad for him. He's going to have a hard time dealing with coming out after this.

    Posted by: Alpha | Sep 24, 2011 12:32:16 PM

  19. You're wrong, Penn. The FAUX NEWS "reort" is pure propganda. Clearly soemthing more went on in that classroom than a casual remark. Clearly Dakota caused a genuine upset in class. But far be it from FAUX to tell the whole story.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Sep 24, 2011 12:34:29 PM

  20. He probably got in trouble for talking in class to the kid behind him and they are using this as some crutch to get him out of trouble. You certainly have the right to free speech in a public school, but there is plenty of case law that allows schools to restrict it (Bong Hitz 4 Jesus!). Though I do think, if he wasn't disruptive about it, he has the right to say it.

    Posted by: Sam | Sep 24, 2011 12:37:45 PM

  21. There is no freedom of speech in a classroom. The teacher is there to provide a safe learning environment for all students, free from harassment. Imagine if a student were to say "I think marriages between people of different races are wrong" and Johnny - an interracial student - was sitting somewhere in the class. I'd expect the same result as happened in this case. If I were a Gay or Lesbian student i that class, it would add to the bullying I'm probably already experencing.

    We have to decide, as a Community, whether we really want to end bullying or not. If we do, it applies to all situations. We don't need anymore young Gay or Lesbian students committing suicide over what happens in our public school system.

    Posted by: Mike | Sep 24, 2011 12:38:20 PM

  22. A thousand teachers who kill for teachable organic moments like this just did a *facepalm.*

    Posted by: JohnC | Sep 24, 2011 12:39:22 PM

  23. How is this different from insisting that slavery is a good thing? That blacks, and all races other than white, are essentially animals? There is lots more Biblical support for that than for hating homosexuals. Oh, I forgot, it's because he is a "Christian" and they consider they can do and say whatever they want and not be criticised for it. Better than the old days though; modern secular governments do not permit them their traditional response to difference: torture and mass murder.

    Posted by: Chris Vogel | Sep 24, 2011 12:40:25 PM

  24. @CANDIDEINNC - Excellent point. Was thinking the same thing. If this kid was talking about how his religion believes that Black people should be slaves and that their skin color is because of the curse and mark of Cain - is that acceptable? Don't laugh, some people actually believe that. Is it hear frequently? These wingnut group won't defend that "religious speech" because it is universally socially unacceptable to say such a thing. But it is open season for hate speech against gay people. If the school would have suspended him for saying hateful ridiculous things against black people, they should suspend him for saying ridiculous hateful things against gays. We need to start calling these people out on their behavior and stop allowing them to use the cloak of religious freedom. Freedom of religion isn't carte blanche to hurt other people anymore than it would allow one to rob a bank. This is ridiculous!

    Posted by: Mike | Sep 24, 2011 12:40:46 PM

  25. Also, it's a local Fox affiliate. It isn't FAUX NEWS. The local Fox affiliate here where I live is full of nothing but gays.

    There is a difference.

    It isn't like they made up the story. Clearly this fat mother brought in an attorney.

    Posted by: Sam | Sep 24, 2011 12:41:20 PM

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