Two teen girls took sexually suggestive photos and posted them on Myspace. No surprise there. So why did the school suspend them from sports and force them to make an official apology to the school’s athletic board?
The Smith-Green Community School Corporation in Indiana has stated that as athletes the girls are representatives of the school – even when off campus. So pictures on Myspace constitute an athletic code violation.
Not so, says the ACLU, which has filed suit against both the school and its principal for violating the girls’ rights.
According to WANE-TV, the school has twenty days to respond to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court alleging the girls’ first amendment rights to free speech were violated by the school. The lawsuit describes the pictures from the girls Myspace pages – which were printed off by another student and given to the principal when school began in September.
Taken during the summer break, the pictures apparently show the girls “pretending to kiss or lick a large multi-colored novelty phallus-shaped lollipop that they had purchased as well as pictures of themselves in lingerie with dollar bills stuck in their clothes.”
Sexually suggestive? Yes. Inappropriate for sophomore girls? Ditto.
But is this a problem for the school or simply the girls’ parents? It wasn’t just off campus, it wasn’t during the school year at all. And the pictures were not actionable (the girls had clothes on) in a court of law. What’s more – the pictures were on Myspace. Although it’s the world wide web, if the pages were marked “private,” so only their friends could see them, they are not representing themselves to society as a whole.
It almost comes down to a matter of taste. If this were my kid, we’d be talking counseling (which the school ordered after the girls’ parents complained about a year-long suspension from athletic play was initially meted out as punishment). But it isn’t up to my kid’s school to determine what is sexually appropriate for my kid off campus and off the clock. Will the school now determine whether a teen girl can go trick or treating in a French maid’s costume? If she can wear a short skirt when grocery shopping with her parents?
Is the school in the wrong on this one or should the girls suffer the punishment?
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