General Question

soundedfury's avatar

Principal outs students - what do you think?

Asked by soundedfury (2543points) May 2nd, 2008

The official story is that a high school principal, fed up with excessive public displays of affection, called the parents of teens to alert them to the behavior. Some of these teens are gay, which effectively outed them to their parents. In addition, it’s believed she had the list posted in her office where it could be viewed by anyone.

The school district is sticking by the principal, the ACLU has sided with the teens. What do you think?

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26 Answers

MrKnowItAll's avatar

She should be beaten.

flyingguy's avatar

I think this is a direct invasion of student privacy. The principle should be held accountable and removed from her job. She had no right to post the lists.

ishotthesheriff's avatar

i’m on both sides. i think the principal is a bitch. but i also think the kids should get some self control and resist the urge to do whatever it is they’re doing and save it for somewhere else. i mean what’s so romantic about kissing in a school?

wildflower's avatar

Having had couples reporting to me at work, I can see how the principle got frustrated.

I’m not sure about the U.S. school-system, so what age are these students? If they’re under-age, I suppose technically she was correct to address it with their parents/guardians if it is a violation of school policy.

Having said that – I think she’s done irreversible damage to these kids by ‘outing’ them. She should have had the decency and consideration to try to address it directly with the kids. Maybe set up an appointment for them with the counselor, before going to such extremes.

In my opinion, she’s gone against the spirit of her role as an educator/mentor for these kids and the consequences for them could be severe – and therefore should be for her too.
Perhaps there should be a shower of civil law-suits brought against her for mental anguish caused.

zahava85's avatar

That is AWFUL. If the principal felt there was too much PDA I think she could have figured out a way to deter her students without shaming tactics or this invasion of their privacy.

ccatron's avatar

yeah, that was here in Memphis…if they were already affectionate in public, then they outed themselves. so what’s the problem? she was concerned about the excessive affection which is probably against school rules. if they didn’t want people to know, they shouldn’t have been obvious about it. school is not the place for public displays of affection.

soundedfury's avatar

I’ll add fuel to the fire – the Constution isn’t fully applied to those under 18 and in public schools. For instance, high school students don’t enjoy the right to free speech on school property. Do they enjoy the right to privacy? Did they waive that right when they chose to display their affection publicly?

I’m not sure my opinion. They effectively outed themselves, but in some ways the principal crossed a line by alerting parents. However, since they aren’t 18, they don’t seem to enjoy the same rights and privileges as adults. It’s tricky.

LunaFemme's avatar

I think it was irresponsible of her to call parents & out the students. However, I agree that PDA does not belong at school, whatever the sexual orientation.

I think it shows her to be an ineffective administrator if this is the only way she saw to handle the problem. Couldn’t she have given the kids detention first??

Also, don’t you give up the presumptive right to privacy when you’re in public??

It will be interesting to watch this play out.

kevbo's avatar

I don’t think a student is entitled to privacy rights if they are exhibiting behavior on school property or any other public place. I don’t think the principal was wrong to collect names and call parents. I do think collecting and posting information about relationships (of either orientation) was more than was needed to make her point, and she should be reprimanded for that.

Truthfully, though, what has education come to if everyone is getting a piece of ass in between classes? Save it for after school at least.

soundedfury's avatar

The articles I’ve read do not address whether she attempted to speak to students or otherwise curtail excessive public displays of affection prior to calling parents. Let’s not assume she did or didn’t, but rather stick to the facts.

flyingguy's avatar

I agree that public affection in a public school should not be tolerated. But I do think that the principle stepped over her bounds by posting the lists. Perhaps the students don’t have many rights, but they should be allowed the courtesy of the school to refrain from calling out a student’s personal life, whether homosexual or not.

wildflower's avatar

Just an addition to my previous response:

Beyond the damage done to the people involved (students and parents), she’s damaged the school spirit, reputation and trust in its administration. And this will not be easy for the school to repair.

One could argue that this damage could impact the further education of the students – given that they have no trust in the school and its staff… will they be motivated to learn and trust the knowledge given to them?

zaid's avatar

folks are right that students have a more limited constitutionally protected right to privacy, for me the question is whether that should be the case. i’m sure there are better ways to handle it though.

nikipedia's avatar

It sounds like people are starting to parse this question into two pieces: Was she legally correct? And was she morally correct?

Legally I have no doubt she was within her rights. Morally, I think she did a lousy thing. I’m sure we have all done things at school or in other public places that we would prefer our parents not know about.

I taught a course at an all-girls Catholic high school once. I became pretty close with a lot of the girls and they trusted me enough that when two of them started a relationship they had no problem expressing their affection in class. But they also respected me enough that when I asked them to knock it off (and when the other girls chimed in with “get a room!”) they listened. I would never have told their super-religious parents what was going on.

soundedfury's avatar

I think maybe that’s the thing for me. She seems to be within her legal rights, but it’s certainly not a decision I would have made. I’d respect that relationships, whether hetero- or homosexual, are not really a concern of the parents (unless violent or otherwise illegal). She seems to have been acting pretty reactionary, which is exactly the opposite of what I want in educators and administrators.

But the noise being made on the other side seems like smoke. You can’t have public displays of anything and then simultaneously claim a right to privacy on those actions. It’s a hard lesson to learn for these kids, but I’m not sure it’s one we should protect them from.

ishotthesheriff's avatar

oh, my bad. i missed in the constitution where it says“these rights extend only to citizens of 18 years or older”
please catch that sarcasm

we, they, have (or at least should) the freedom to do whatever the hell they want. so what if you hold hands or hug, or kiss, between classes. why should it be any different than anywhere else? it’s not like they’re doing it during class. . .

i agree with what you say about having PDA and then trying to claim privacy on those actions, but otherwise. . .

Babo's avatar

That was just wrong. I can’t believe she chose this to be the best way to deal with the situation. Parents sometimes disown their kids when they find out they’re gay. This decision could possibly ruin lives!

Jonsonite's avatar

She should have warned the kids first.

Beyond that, notifying parents is probably a pretty effective deterrent to PDAs in school. Is it different when the kids are gay and maybe not out to their parents? That’s the tricky part. Were I her, I definitely would have had a private chat with them first and warned them about the consequences of their actions. If they weren’t out to their parents and knew that notification was the consequence, you can be sure they would have toed the line from then on.

gooch's avatar

I agree with the principal. If you dont want your business on the street dont do it in the street.

mandyhammon's avatar

i do belive that in school pda should not take place but being outed just because your gay is not right some teens find it hard to speak to thier parents about sexuality and they have the right to keep that private!

Riser's avatar

The principal had no right to post the names or contact the parents, considering a teacher can take a child to get an abortion without the parent’s knowledge. I refuse to break precedences.

PupnTaco's avatar

if it’s true, I think it’s bullshit.

scamp's avatar

I really don’t think this is a privacy issue because the kids made it public themselves. I wish the article said wheter or not she warned the students before calling the parents. But even if she didn’t and felt the need to contact them, she did not need to reveal who the student was sharing PDA with, just that is was being done, and needed to be addressed.

The list did not need to be posted where other students could see it. She should have kept it in a file, and not posted it on the wall in her office.

Randy's avatar

PDA is against the rules in most schools. The children were obviously breaking the rules which has consequences. I see no problem contacting the parents. The list is a little rough. Like scamp said, it shoulda been kept on file, not the wall. Kids seem to think the rules don’t apply to them as an individual now and days. I know I didn’t when I was in high school, which was about three years ago mind you. If they are going to openly break the rules, they deserve punishment. The rules are there for a reason. I don’t know, but I’m almost sure that the principal gave some form of warning.

sarapnsc's avatar

I know this question is old, but I am going to respond anyways….

A public school is public, not private….they don’t have the right to privacy in a school. There is a time and place for everything and that includes having self control and not being overly affectionate in a public place. Holding hands, peck on the lips is fine.

Groping, feeling each other up….sucking face (french kissing), save it for when you are by yourselves. In this case, the people in question have no right to moan about their privacy.
On the other hand, I believe the principal was wrong for posting the names, I don’t believe it was an invasion of privacy, because it is quite obvious, these children didn’t care about privacy and who seen them, when showing affection in the classroom and hallway. I do believe it was wrong by being demeaning. It wasn’t necessary to share it with the whole school. Our children go through enough on a daily basis with being bullied, humiliated and being harrassed in the schools, this just added flames to the fire to give other children the right to demean and harrass.

As, for the parents being told, that’s an iffy too. Some parents would have a good intelligent talk with their child. Other parents would probably make it all about them, about how much the child has humilated them etc. Parents and adults can be just as immature as their child. Myself personally, I’d talk to my child about how one should behave in public and how others don’t want to see these type of affections etc. and not make it about me.
But, inside me all the while I would be thinking & thanking my lucky stars, I didn’t get a call about my child abusing drugs, stealing from somone, cheating or being violent.

I think the principal went a bit over the top, by posting the names publically, it wasn’t anyones business, but the child, the principals and the parents.

My father always told me, don’t do anything in your life that you will be embarrassed or ashamed about, and then come back and protest about it later…
actions = consequences.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

the list being on the wall is a ridiculous, unnecessary step. while i don’t think it exactly embarrasses the kids because if they were publicly displaying affection it was public to begin with, it’s a childish move that isn’t expected out of a grown adult in an authoritative position.

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