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Wesson issue about keeping decorum in educational settings

A high school’s purpose is to not only educate its students butto also open their eyes and ears to the world around them, to urgethem to reach above and beyond.

Any teacher worth their salt challenges their students to thinkoutside the box, to question why and ask how. Part of thatchallenge is to take students through the thought process so theycan understand the positive and negative consequences of doingso.

A 17-year-old senior at Wesson Attendance Center has been doingthat for the past few weeks.

Ceara Sturgis is questioning why she cannot wear her choice ofgarments in the school’s yearbook. Her desire to wear a tuxedoinstead of the traditional drape has met with discomfort withschool officials in their desire to maintain decorum, whichresulted in a decision to remove the senior’s photo from the 2010yearbook.

To draw attention to her issue, national gay rights groups andthe American Civil Liberties Union have joined her cause with theACLU threatening a lawsuit over violation of her First Amendmentrights of free speech.

We have to commend Sturgis’ desire to question the status quoand ask why. We also have to commend the Wesson administrator’sdecision to maintain decorum and tradition at the school and sayno!

As this issue becomes embroiled on the side issue of gay andlesbian rights – a red herring designed to drive emotional response- the real issue here is the school administration’s need anddesire to enforce certain rules and policies that administratorsbelieve are in the best interest of the student body as awhole.

One has to question what is the harm of allowing a student towear a different garment as innocuous as a tuxedo to voice theiropinion? It is not a problem until another student chooses to wearsome trivial attire or clothing that is clearly racially orreligiously insensitive to others. Why are those rights not asabsolute as Ceara Sturgis’?

The Wesson situation is not about freedom of expression or theFirst Amendment, as the ACLU would have observers believe. It isabout school tradition and decorum, and officials’ ability togovern and maintain both in the best interest of the school systemas a whole.