The following items are not necessarily about homeschooling, but with all the bad news about how rotten things are in our culture, which is one motivating factor for many homeschooling families, it is good to know that there are some hopeful signs.
Hallelujah! Some judge finally got it right!: In an item headlined, "Homosexclamation! Christian student fights prof, wins big: Judge rules college can’t censor religious speech for being ‘offensive,’ on July 14, 2009, Drew Zahn of WorldNetDaily reported that a California court has ruled in favor of a student who was insulted for defending traditional marriage and has ordered the college to strike from its website a sexual harassment policy that censors speech deemed "offensive" to homosexual people. Jonathan Lopez, a student at Los Angeles City College, was delivering a speech on his Christian faith in speech class when professor John Matteson interrupted him, called him a "fascist b—-rd" for mentioning a moral conviction against homosexual marriage and later told him to "ask God what your grade is." The professor also warned on his evaluation of Lopez’s speech, "Proselytizing is inappropriate in public school," and later threatened to have Lopez expelled. Represented by attorneys from the Alliance Defense Fund, Lopez sued the Los Angeles City College District, the largest community college system in the U.S., with over 135,000 students. The lawsuit not only targeted the school over the professor’s comments, however, but also sought removal of a campus sexual harassment and speech policy that court documents allege "systematically prohibits and punishes political and religious speech by students that is outside the campus political mainstream." ADF claims the district’s policy, which labels speech as sexual harassment whenever it might be "perceived as offensive or unwelcome" – such as Lopez’s opinions on sexual morality – opens the door for Christians and defenders of traditional marriage to suffer abuses similar to the type Lopez endured. "Professor Matteson clearly violated Mr. Lopez’s free speech rights by engaging in viewpoint discrimination and retaliation because he disagreed with the student’s religious beliefs," said ADF Senior Counsel David French in a statement. "Moreover, the district has a speech code that has created a culture of censorship on campus. America’s public universities and colleges are supposed to be a ‘marketplace of ideas,’ not a hotbed of intolerance." In a ruling handed down, U.S. District Judge George H. King apparently agreed, calling the campus policy "unconstitutionally overbroad" and ordering it to be stricken from the college’s website. Judge King ruled, "By using subjective words such as ‘hostile’ and ‘offensive,’ the policy is so subjective and broad that it applies to protected speech." He further quoted court precedent, stating, "’It is firmly settled that under our Constitution the public expression of ideas may not be prohibited merely because the ideas are themselves offensive to some of their hearers.’" The ruling concluded, "Thus, the policy reaches constitutionally protected speech that is merely offensive to some listeners, such as discussions of religion, homosexual relations and marriage, sexual morality and freedom, polygamy, or even gender politics and policies. Indeed, the LACC’s website indicates that sexual harassment can include ‘sexist statements … or degrading attitudes/comments about women or men.’ This could include an individual’s outdated, though protected, opinions on the proper role of the genders. While it may be desirable to promote harmony and civility, these values cannot be enforced at the expense of protected speech under the First Amendment. Thus, the policy is unconstitutionally overbroad." The judge then granted ADF’s request for a preliminary injunction, suggesting Lopez was likely to win his case and that the posted policy was likely to cause irreparable harm should it be left in place. He ordered the college district to remove the policy within two weeks. "Christian students shouldn’t be penalized for expressing their beliefs at a public college," commented French on the judge’s decision. "We are pleased that the court has taken this step to ensure that the First Amendment rights of students are not violated. We will continue to litigate this case to make sure the constitutional rights of our client and other students at the college are protected."
More good news–Bible banishment by court overturned: In an item suheaded, "Appeals judges approve policy of equal treatment for all materials" on July 17, 2009, Bob Unruh of WorldNetDaily reported that a ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Perry that singled out the Bible as an "instrument of religion" and banned its distribution in a school has been overturned by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The case, which has been developing for several years, concerned the activities of the South Iron School District in Missouri, which for years had allowed members of the Gideons to hand out Bibles to fifth-graders. When the practice was challenged, the board adopted a new neutral policy requiring anyone wishing to hand out materials to submit them to the school for approval. It specifically banished materials in several categories such as commercial advertisements and documents that promote illegal actions. It also provided for an appeal process. "Under this policy, an outside group may offer Bibles to students who wish to take them in the same manner as other nonreligious groups are permitted to distribute secular literature," explained Liberty Counsel founder and chairman Mathew Staver, who argued the case before the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis. However, opponents of the school’s policy continued their protest, and Perry issued a permanent injunction banning the distribution of Bibles in classrooms and also condemned the school’s new policy. Her decision said the neutral treatment policy toward handouts was unacceptable, because it would allow actual distribution of Bibles. Her ruling, according to Liberty Counsel, "presented a novel (and unconstitutional) theory that a private third party (like the ACLU) must have the opportunity to veto the distribution request of the private applicant." The veto power, the judge wrote, must be provided to veto religious, but not secular, literature, the law firm said. Staver said the Constitution simply doesn’t allow the Bible to be singled out, like contraband, for special penalties. "How ironic that in America, until recent times, the Bible formed the basis of education, and now its mere presence is radioactive in the opinion of some judges," he said when he argued the appeal. "The founders never envisioned such open hostility toward the Christian religion as we see today in some venues. To single out the Bible alone for discriminatory treatment harkens back to the Dark Ages. America deserves better. Our Constitution should be respected, not disregarded." But the 8th Circuit decision, which continued a ban on handing out Bibles to students in classrooms, said they could be distributed on the same basis as other handouts. "Opening the school for expressive conduct to community and student groups serves the secular purpose of providing a forum for an exchange of ideas and social intercourse," said the opinion. "We know of no case holding that the creation of a limited public forum was not a secular purpose satisfying [the law]," the judges continued. The ruling found, "school officials must remain free to experiment in good faith with new policies to accommodate the tensions between educational objectives … private rights under the Free Exercise Clause, and … the Establishment Clause." Staver told WND that under the orders from the district court decision, "The Quran is OK, and other kinds of religious texts; just not the Bible. The Bible alone is impermissible in the public school." Among the groups that have distributed material at the school are the Army Corps of Engineers, Red Cross, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Iron County Health Department, Missouri Water Patrol, Missouri Highland Healthcare and Union Pacific Railroad, officials said. "The ACLU might not like the fact that equal access also means equal treatment for religious speech, but the Constitution requires equal treatment," Staver said. "The First Amendment protects private religious viewpoints. Hecklers may heckle but they may not veto private religious speech. … Religious viewpoints have constitutional protection." The appeals court opinion said, "The district court wholly ignored the proper initial inquiry, whether the text of the new policy evidences an unconstitutional purpose." Editor’s comment: Most public schools are still primarily humanist indoctrination centers and no places for impressionable children of Christians, but we can still rejoice in every victory for common sense in the public education system.
Not all legislators are up to their eyeballs in compromise with decadent culture: In an item headlined "At issue: Students’ religious rights in graduate program," Charlie Butts of OneNewsNow on 7/18/2009 reported that Michigan State Representative Tom McMillin has introduced a resolution dealing with a Christian’s right to stand behind her religious beliefs. Julea Ward was a part of the Eastern Michigan University Graduate School of Counseling. With only two months left until graduation with a master’s degree, she was dismissed for declining on religious grounds to provide counseling to a homosexual who was trying to improve his relationship with his partner. "I was just calling on Eastern Michigan University to end this kind of discrimination based on somebody’s religious beliefs, and ask our state’s attorney general to conduct an investigation to see if her civil rights were violated, which certainly appears to be [the case]," Representative McMillan contends, noting that the resolution is gaining bipartisan support. McMillin, however, wants to add to the investigation. "And we’re also looking at funding. Michigan is in a very difficult budget situation right now, and I feel that if the university’s going to be giving that kind of discrimination that the taxpayers would like for them to have a little of their funding pared back as a result," he notes, "and so I am going to be working on that as well." The state lawmaker believes some university instructors have an elitist, politically correct mentality that should not be tolerated. [Editor’s note: He is right; and it is not only at the university level! WSW.]