A New Hampshire high school student is suing his school for allegedly suspending him for stating in a texting conversation with another student that there are only two genders.
The mother of the high school student has requested anonymity, but reports that she was shocked when she learned that her son, a linebacker for the Exeter High School football team, was suspended from football because he broke the school’s gender-affirming policy. The school has a written policy that requires students to address each other by their preferred pronouns, regardless of their biological sex. The student’s mother is suing the school for violating her son’s constitutional right to free speech and for violating his rights under the New Hampshire Bill of Rights.
The student is identified as M. P. in the lawsuit. M. P. claims that, on September 9 of this year, he was engaged in a conversation on the school bus with friends over the matter of a classmate requesting to go by the pronoun “they.” Apparently, M. P. was expressing an opinion unfavorable toward the new regime, because a female student identified as A. G. overheard the conversation and told M. P., “There are more than two genders!” A. G. later obtained M. P.’s phone number and the two began a heated exchange via text. M. P. wrote A. G. saying, “Gender and sex mean the same thing. There are only two genders and sexes.” A. P. countered that gender and sex are different, insisting, “Your [sic] in high school you should know this.” “I also know that ur a bozo,” M. P. replied. “Just stfu and leave me alone.”
Honestly, that should have been the end of it. But, because everything that offends someone these days must be reported to the proper authorities so they can properly punish the miscreant and affirm the righteousness of the offended party, A. G. reported M. P.’s text messages to the vice principal of the school. And, because authority figures these days feel obliged to insert themselves as the arbiters of righteousness into every private conversation that is really none of their business, the vice principal called M. P. to her office the next day and, along with the football coach, rebuked him for the created-ten-minutes-ago crime of “not respecting pronouns.” (Think about it, really, what the heck does that even mean? I can understand how one can disrespect a person, but how can one disrespect a pronoun? Were the pronoun’s feelings hurt? Was the pronoun offended? Just because our political/social/cultural milieu is descending into the abyss, do we have to drag our language down with it?).
The vice principal, Mary Dovholuk, suspended M. P. for a week’s worth of football. The football coach, William Ball, was willing to play along with this comedy, but only up to a point. He reduced M. P.’s suspension from football to one day. I guess he needed his linebacker.
None of this sat well with M. P. or his mother. M. P. insists that the notion of more than two genders counters his Catholic faith, and his mother and their attorney insist that the school has no business telling kids what they’re supposed to believe and demanding that they act accordingly. M. P.’s attorney, Ian Huyett, said, “This case shows that schools increasingly not only think that their role is to instill the correct ideological beliefs in students but to enforce those beliefs. Fortunately, they have no constitutional ability to do that, and it’s important they be reminded of that.” The lawsuit seeks nominal damages and an injunction barring the enforcement of the gender-affirming school policy as a violation of the First Amendment.
It is one thing for the school and the government to encourage that people respect each other. Generally, even people with varying political and religious worldviews can find a way to do that without violating deeply held beliefs or positions. It is something else entirely for the government — and public schools are government schools — to use the force of law to mandate certain speech; to tell citizens, “You must talk this way,” or “You must say these things,” and to attempt to enforce such speech codes with the force of law. That is untenable. It is equally egregious for a government to demand that citizens believe certain things, especially things that are inconsistent with reality as it has been objectively confirmed for multiple millennia, simply because the latest political/social/cultural trend demands it. The role of government is to protect the rights and freedoms of all. It is not the role of government to take sides in culture wars, but to ensure that the war doesn’t turn so hot that peoples’ constitutional rights become a fatality of the conflict.
It would have been grand if M. P. and A. G. could have had their say and left it at that. Unfortunately, there is a propensity among the young and woke to enlist authorities to enforce their take on reality. Unfortunately, there is a propensity among some in authority to do just that. I can cut A. G. some slack for snitching on M. P. to the vice principal. She’s a high school kid who has been taught by her woke culture that thought crimes are to be reported. She needs to be disabused of this notion, and hopefully that will happen before she meets someone with less tolerance for such ridiculousness than M. P. But, I’ve little patience or sympathy for adults who create speech codes or “whatever”-affirming policies as unsubtle attempts to demand conformity with certain political/social/cultural ideologies. Failing that, the vice principal ought to at least have had the insight to appreciate that M. P. and A. G.’s exchange was private and none of the school’s business. She ought to have been the adult in the room and told A. G. that. The football coach should have had the backbone to stand up for his player against the injudicious overreach of his vice principal. None of that happened, so it’s off to court they go!
Ah, well. So here we are reading about yet another saga in the seemingly endless battle over people trying to shut others up for the horrible, offensive, bigoted, intolerant things they say. Will it ever end? I hope so. I’m beginning to feel offended by it all!
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.