April 21, 2005

I don't want to hear about it, thank you

Another school confronts a free speech issue - or is it?

Two Winona High School students have found themselves in hot water with school officials. Why? Because after Carrie Rethlefsen attended a performance of the play "The Vagina Monologues" last month, she and Emily Nixon wore buttons to school that read: "I [heart] My Vagina."

School leaders said that the pin is inappropriate and that the discomfort it causes trumps the girls' right to free speech. The girls disagree. And despite repeated threats of suspension and expulsion, Rethlefsen has continued to wear her button.

The girls claim the buttons provoke discussion about women's rights, and are perfectly happy that some boys plan to wear "I Support Your Vagina" buttons, but let's be honest. There are going to be much more racy buttons appearing out there, and it'll be interesting to see how the school deals with this - obviously, not all speech is protected under the First Amendment, and schools can certainly ban pins/t-shirts that discuss body parts.

It'll also be interesting to see whether another situation like this will develop when buttons like, "My Penis is Better Than Your Vagina" and "Shut Up About Your Vagina," inevitably emerge.

Posted by kswygert at April 21, 2005 11:26 AM
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