For those of you who don’t read the paper, I’m going to cut and paste a note I just sent out to The Mountaineer and Smoky Mountain News (as well as the Principal of Tuscola, School Board members, and Liberty Counsel):
“It has come to my attention that Junior class students at Tuscola High School have recently been told to begin preparations for their Senior class projects. Having had the opportunity to mentor a number of students working on such projects it’s obvious that many such student do not prepare and so end up trying to complete their work at the last minute. So I applaud this call for preparation to the Juniors and hope that they will begin making plans for their individual projects.
However it seems that many of these same students were informed that while they were allowed to present projects supporting the legalization of cannabis, they were NOT allowed to present projects concerning the practice of abortion (presumably either supporting or objecting). It would appear that some overzealous teachers have taken it upon themselves to dictate what can and cannot be said in the public schools. But I would like to point out that such “point of view” discrimination has never been ruled by any Supreme Court reading of the First Amendment. Tuscola, and any other teacher, principal, or school within the purview Haywood County Schools that has made similar policy statements, needs to correct this mis-reading of the First Amendment immediately.
Whether you support legalization of cannabis, or abortion, or are opposed to both—this matter concerns us all. The schools should not be in the business of dictating which position a student may support nor allowing some to argue their point while denying others freedom of speech.
James E. Lyle
Copies of the contents of this letter are being sent to The Haywood County School, Travis Collins, Principal of Tuscola High School, and legal representative at Liberty Counsel has been contacted concerning this matter.”