The lesson of the day for Kearian Giertz, a Fullerton High School senior who declared his support for same-sex marriage in front of an annual “Mr. Fullerton” campus pageant, is to keep your opinions to yourself, or you'll be publicly chastised.
That's what happened after he was promptly swept away and kicked out of the event by assistant principal Joe Abell.
Now the L.A.-based ACLU of Southern California is backing the kid:
ACLU of Southern California director James Gilliam isn't happy with the assistant principal's apology, or with district superintendent George J. Giokaris' explanation that the off-script remark caught Abell off-guard and should have been “handled privately.”
Off-script or not, the ACLU says Giertz had a right to speak his mind in the school's Plummer Auditorium Tuesday night.
“Where do you see yourself in 10 years from now?” he was asked in front of a crowd. “Hopefully, 10 years from now gay marriage will be legal in California.”
Oh no he didn't.
The ACLU of Southern California is troubled not just by the fact that a student was publically reprimanded by an assistant principal for expressing his constitutional right to free speech – and the desire of most people, gay or straight, to meet a partner with whom to spend the rest of one's life – but by the response of Superintendant George Giokaris. While Giokaris is correct that the student's answer violated no school rules, his contention that the matter should have been addressed privately is as incorrect as the original, public response. The student not only did not violate any school rules, but was protected by the First Amendment. His bravery is to be commended, not punished.
The kid, of course, was right to say what's right. But what happened to him, unfortunately, was just a little taste of what's waiting for him out there in the real world.