Censoring schools

Loudoun Times-Mirror
April 13, 2005
By Jeri McGiverin, Mainstream Loudoun

“I’m not looking to invite litigation, but I’m also not looking to escape it by not doing the job we’re here to do.” This was the closing remark of Mark Nuzzaco, chair of the School Board committee considering a policy to exclude certain topics from student theatrical productions, as well as student publications, student clubs, and even curriculum.

Over and over during the committee’s April 7 meeting, members looked for ways to base school policy on their personal viewpoints without running afoul of the law. They were unable to do so. The law explicitly prohibits the kind of viewpoint censorship they are seeking to impose, with good reason.

Board member Warren Geurin admitted at the meeting that there was nothing “lewd or obscene” in the play “Offsides.” What he and others found objectionable was merely a viewpoint, one he personally deemed “inappropriate.”

Obscenity, foul language and the like are already prohibited by school policy, and have nothing to do with this new proposal to censor ideas.

Political opportunists are using the sensitive topic of sexuality as a wedge issue, hoping that the public won’t be able to differentiate between a disruptive act, which can be lawfully prohibited, and the expression of a controversial viewpoint, which cannot.

At no time is it permissible for School Board members’ personal positions on sensitive issues to determine what students may examine or discuss.

The School Board’s legal counsel can explain the difference. We recommend that they listen to him.

Jeri McGiverin, Mainstream Loudoun

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