Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Free Speech

I always thought that free speech was about what the government could and couldn't do. My understanding was that my employer could regulate my speech. As a manager I tell my employees what they can and can't say. They have a specified greeting for the phone. They are told not to use swear words or derogatory language. Evidently training someone to work in a hair salon is a different matter or so says a teacher. She should be allowed to give her students pamphlets that say homosexuality is a sin according to her suit. Hmm. Would she have the same opinion if I approached her and said something differently as a teacher?

The sticking point is that employers and employees or teachers and students don't have the same rights and responsibilities as the government and the governed. The teacher is perfectly free to hand out her pamphlets in the public byways and thoroughfairs. But that situation changes when

But the classroom situation isn't a public area and employers can set limits. And one of those limits is setting an area free of sexual harassment. In fact, employers can be sued if they don't provide an area free of sexual harassment. Giving someone a pamphlet that says that they are a sinner because of their sexual orientation when you are their teacher is clearly sexual harassment. It's not in the same order as groping and touching and asking for a date, but it is simply not appropriate. The teacher is in a position of power over and using that to judge what is clearly not in her area of teaching. A gay hairdresser? Who knew? Wait, isn't that one of those stereotypes?

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