Recently, a scandal has surfaced surrounding the election of a student running for ASB president at San Ramon Valley High School. To promote his candidacy, a junior running for the school's position of ASB president convinced his friends to dress up as Muslim terrorists in a campaign video, vowing to defeat ISIS if students voted for him.
In response to this extremely troubling and blatantly racist video, the school district took disciplinary action, stripping the title of ASB president from the student. In response, ironically, the parents of the boy took legal action against the school, defending the student for putting up an alarmingly violent and discriminatory video claiming it was valid upon the grounds of freedom of speech. In response to this, unfortunately the school district decided to reinstate the student as ASB president, and he is expected to return to school free of any consequences or disciplinary action.
This event begs the question, at what point should we stop protecting free speech in public institutions? It is quite ironic how an honor roll student could be stripped of everything for wearing a slightly scandalous top, however a student running for an elected position can get away with being openly racist and discriminatory. Public institutions boast they have welcoming and non-discriminatory environments, while pulling stunts like this. This event not only speaks badly of the district, it speaks badly of the adults so willing to sweep this incident under the rug, leaving hundreds of minorities feeling under attack and marginalized.
Free speech protection must stop when that free speech interferes with the safety and welcoming environment of an educative institution. Minorities cannot be expected to learn in an environment hostile to their identities. Schools cannot possibly expect to educate a united student body when a student can get away with making a mockery of an entire faith. These institutions are preparing the next generation of leaders and members of society. Teaching the lesson that racism and prejudice can be excused will have detrimental effects on the brains of these young learners.
Racism has absolutely no place in an educational system. Free speech or not, perpetuating racism and the stereotypes that surround it is exactly the type of behavior that leads to teen suicide, bullying, harassment and assault. The San Ramon Valley Unified School District needs to learn to prioritize acceptance over bigotry. Until then, there will be no success in educating the leaders of our future