The latest controversy to occur in our neighborhood comes from La Jolla High School, where the administration censored the messages “Freedom for Iran” and “Down with Dictator” that students painted on a bench.
The ACLU is suing the San Diego Union School District, demanding that it surrender its authority to eradicate any message it deems too inappropriate, as this violates the students’ right to be heard. ACLU activism aside, this is a prime educational opportunity.
If students care enough to paint these opinions, the administration has the obligation to utilize the students’ freedom of expression as an opportunity to teach.
According to the LHJS conduct code, the senior benches are intended for messages of school spirit and birthday wishes. Because of these established rules and federal law, the school is within its rights to censor the benches. But some impassioned students wanted their impact to extend beyond peppy school-spirited messages. These attempts at peer education shouldn’t simply be eradicated when they obviously concern an issue that students care about. Yasamin Elahi, the senior who painted the messages, said, “I never did any of this to get attention or hurt my school… I wrote the messages so kids would realize that there is a lot going on outside the world [of] La Jolla that they live in.”
The benches could have easily highlighted the controversy and provided an ideal point to start a real discussion about current events. When students so publicly displayed their need to show their peers what’s happening outside of campus halls, the administration at LJHS should have taken advantage of the opportunity to educate.
Erratically written by: