Anti-choice advocates are declaring it a victory for first amendment rights. A 12 year-old girl who was asked by school administrators to remove a graphic anti-abortion t-shirt she wore to her elementary school sued, stating the action violated her free speech rights.
Now, two years later, the girl’s family has received a $50,000 settlement from the school district to, according to district officials, pay court fees to end the case, not to admit any wrongdoing.
The t-shirt was allegedly worn as part of American Life League’s “National Pro-Life T-shirt Day” action in 2008, according to the group. On that day, students are encouraged to wear shirts to school that have anti-abortion statements in an attempt to “educate” other pupils about the importance of protesting abortion. Yes, even in elementary schools. Via California Catholic Daily:
[Attorney William J. Becker Jr. of The Becker Law Firm] Becker, assisted by the Thomas More Law Center, filed suit on behalf of [mother] Anna and [student] Tiffany Amador. “Public school students are not forbidden from proclaiming the value of life under the First Amendment. The school has done the right thing by avoiding a trial and allowing a judgment to be entered in favor of this student on all claims. All Americans, no matter their age, are free to exercise their constitutional right to speak out against the barbarism of on-demand abortion, and that includes public school students who do so in a non-disruptive manner.”
“Student speech at all grade levels is protected by the First Amendment,” said Becker. “With few exceptions, such as profanity and lewdness, the Constitution prohibits school officials from picking and choosing what messages they find acceptable and what messages they find unacceptable. The message of the shirt was that life demands respect. This is a particularly vital message for vulnerable young girls.”
It is important to speak to children, especially “vulnerable young girls,” at a very young age about abortion, even at schools, according to anti-choice activists. Not only do they advocate t-shirts to start the discussion, but they have another day targeted specifically to young children in schools: Pro-Life Cupcake Day.
“What’s worse than being in third grade and not having anyone celebrate your birthday?” the website asks. “Not being allowed to be born,” it answers. And what better way to make that point than by baking cupcakes to bring to school, then starting up a discussion about abortion over the confections?
From Cupcakes for Life:
Q.) What if my school won’t allow me to bring in cup cakes?
A1.) Give them out before or after school!
A2.) Do it anyway and be quick about it! Also be very apologetic and kind if you get caught.[emphasis added]
A3.) Ask for permission to bring in pre-packaged cupcakes from a bakery!
A4.) Just pass out flyers and make cupcakes after school and hand them out to your neighbors in the name of life. Whatever you do, don’t give up when confronted by opposition!
Q.) What should I say about abortion when I hand out my cupcakes?
A.) We really want to give you the freedom to say whatever you want but make sure you say something! If you don’t know why you are pro-life do a little research online. The website: Abort73.com is a great place to start. The point of this entire project is to not remain silent about abortion so as long as you say something and pass out cupcakes you have accomplished your mission!
They even provide specifics on best practices for elementary school children:
Ideas for elementary school kids:
Some kids are not ready to know everything about abortion; however, a mom could bake a batch of cupcakes that just say: I Heart Babies on them. The young student could go into class and tell all of his or her friends about how babies need lots of love as they slowly grow inside their mommies.
Wait…babies grow inside their mommies? That sounds suspiciously like…sex education!
But of course, that can’t be so, because all topics that might touch on sex need parental permission and no child should be subjected to it at school. That includes any mention of contraceptive options, sexually transmitted disease avoidance, pregnancy prevention, or discussions of the human body and its functions.
After all, remember the uproar about the proposed idea of handing out condoms at an elementary school, followed by a counseling session regarding proper use as well as a discussion about abstinence? Parents were allegedly up at arms that their parental rights were being usurped, and the Massachusetts Family Institute was on the warpath defending them.
Kris Mineau, President, Massachusetts Family Institute, called the new policy “radical” and “absurd.”
“Making condoms available to first graders bullies parents to submit to an agenda that promotes sexual promiscuity to innocent children at their most vulnerable age,” Mineau said in a statement.
Mineau commented that the decision by the Provincetown School Committee “demonstrates the lengths to which some will go to emasculate parents’ rights …”
Or how about when an anti-choice District Attorney took it upon himself to threaten teachers with arrest for “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” if they participated in the new age-appropriate sex ed classes being mandated by the state? District Attorney Scott Southward went as far as to call teaching students about contraception a promotion of “the sexualization – and sexual assault – of our children.”
So there you have it. The anti-choice paradox: discussing abortion in schools is a child’s right and should be done at any and every age, as long as that child is promoting an anti-choice agenda. Discussing reproductive health, including anatomy, contraception, or protection from STI’s in a fact-based and age-appropriate manner, however, is at all times off-limits for school children of any age without prior approval from all parents and the promotion that the only acceptable choice is to be abstinent until you are married.
Now if only they could find a way to fit that slogan on a t-shirt.