Friday, 27 January 2012

Superintendent Bullies Student for Article Opposing Homosexuality

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homosexualityA Wisconsin school superintendent may be rethinking how he dealt with a student who wrote a school newspaper article condemning homosexuality as sinful. As part of an assignment for his journalism class, which is responsible for producing the school newspaper, 15-year-old Shawano High School student Brandon Wegner contributed half of a pro-con editorial feature on adoption by homosexual couples, using Scripture to buttress his case against same-sex couples adopting children.

Wegner, who was raised in a Christian home, pointed out that, according to Leviticus 18:22, “it is an abomination” for couples of the same sex to be intimately involved. With perfect biblical logic, Wegner wrote that “God made man and woman with the intention of them getting married to each other and having children. As Christians, same-sex partnership is against many Christian beliefs so why would it be okay for them to adopt children?”

He went on to note that in a God-centered culture, “homosexuality is a perversion, not a lifestyle choice. In today’s world, many Christian people generally base their values and beliefs on the Bible, and using that guideline, homosexuality is wrong, which leads us to the conclusion that homosexuals adopting is wrong because a child should not be raised in a sinful environment.”

According to the Green Bay Press Gazette, after the school published the article, a local homosexual couple complained, with one of them, Nick Uttecht, telling the district that “he thinks the piece opposing gays as parents is hateful and should not have run.” The newspaper said Uttecht worried that “the strong language will hurt his children and could lead students to bully gay classmates.”

School district officials quickly apologized for Wegner’s piece, calling it a “form of bullying and disrespect,” with district superintendent Todd Carlson declaring in a written statement: “Offensive articles cultivating a negative environment of disrespect are not appropriate or condoned by the Shawano School District.” Carlson added his assurance that the district was “taking steps to prevent items of this nature from happening in the future.”

Part of the district’s preventive measures apparently included a little bullying on the part of Carlson toward Brandon Wegner, according to the Liberty Counsel, the legal advocacy group representing the student and his family in possible action against the district.

In a press release about the incident, the organization recalled that after the article was published, Brandon Wegner was subjected to “hours of meetings with school administrators and staff, without his parents’ knowledge.” Ultimately Wegner was hauled before Superintendent Carlson, who informed the young man that his column “went against the bullying policy,” and who gave him the opportunity to publicly express his regret over the piece.

When the young man informed Carlson that he had no regrets, and that he intended to stand firmly by what he had written — and what he believed — the superintendent allegedly berated Wegner, telling him that he “had got to be one of the most ignorant kids to try to argue with [him] about this topic.” According to the Liberty Counsel’s account, Carlson told Wegner that his article “personally offended me,” and threatened him with the observation that “we have the power to suspend you if we want to.”

Wegner’s parents responded to the verbal and psychological assault on their son by contacting Liberty Counsel, which sent a letter to the Shawano school district, demanding that it “immediately apologize for its unconstitutional and irrational censorship of Mr. Wegner’s column,” and “provide assurances that it will no longer subject students to censorship for expressing their sincerely-held and constitutionally protected religious beliefs.”

Liberty’s epistle added that it was “simply irrational” for the district to “vehemently reject and subject Mr. Wegner to shame and public humiliation for his opinion,” and pointed to the district’s own policy, which encourages teachers and students to “promote tolerance for the views and opinions of others, as well as for the right of an individual to form and hold different opinions or beliefs.”

Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, pointed out that the “bullying at Shawano High School is by Superintendent Todd Carlson and the school officials, not the student, Brandon Wegner.”

He told Fox News that the district’s superintendent “wants everyone to accept homosexuality as normative and homosexual adoption as something that should be standard practices. In doing so, he’s belittling the views ... of many people across this country. He is playing a zero-sum game. He’s not interested in dialogue.”

Staver said that at this point in the conflict an apology from the district may not be enough. “It was a very intimidating situation for this 15-year-old boy,” he said. “It was uncalled for. [The superintendent] crossed the line.”

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