(via Boing Boing) How offensive do you think you should have to be before a school has the right to withhold your diploma for it? Say, at a school speech? Strip naked? Punch a guidance counselor? Deliver a perfect rendition of George Carlin's dirty words routine?
At the high school in Prague, Oklahoma, apparently it's the word "Hell." Say Hell in front of the student body, and you don't get your diploma.
Kaitlin Nootbaar, the class valedictorian, gave a speech at graduation. There was no litany of curses, attacks on the school, the country, or the community, nothing that would strike a sane person as remotely offensive. What she said was,
When she first started school she wanted to be a nurse, then a veterinarian and now that she was getting closer to graduation, people would ask her, what do you want to do and she said how the hell do I know? I’ve changed my mind so many times.
To be fair, they're not refusing to give her her diploma outright. They're just demanding that she apologize for the offensive language, or she doesn't get her diploma. She (like any sane, principled person) refused, and they're refusing to hand over the proof of graduation.
She's supposed to be starting college, on a full scholarship, like, this week.
I'm struggling to figure out what to say. This is why it's not okay that students are treated like sub-citizens. This is why it's not okay for principles to have the power to censor student speech. This is not okay. This is, like, a firing offense. The people responsible should lose their jobs.
Remarkably, Kaitlin had the story amended to include this statement:
First off, I would like to thank everyone who is backing me on this, especially my friends and family. And to those who don’t agree with me, that is fine also. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and is free to comment however they choose. It’s one of the great advantages of living in a free country. A country where we are free to speak. I would also like to note that I do not hate Prague. I have loved that town since I was a child. I don’t hate the school either, the teachers have always been great! I don’t feel that the whole town should suffer from the mistakes of few. Again, thanks:)
She's exactly the kind of person that we should be encouraging in our society, and it's insane that the use of the word 'hell' is holding her back.