« Courts - "Webcasts open a window to Texas Supreme Court" | Main | Ind. Decisions - Still more on lethal injection challenge pending before federal judge »

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Ind.Decisions - More on "Gay-rights article stirs debate over student freedoms"

Updating this ILB entry from March 26, 2007, Krista J. Stockman of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reports today in a story headlined "Journalism groups rally to aid adviser."

The journalism teacher who allowed the student newspaper to publish an opinion piece urging tolerance for gays is apparently going to be fired. Some quotes from today's story:

Amy Sorrell, who has been a teacher at Woodlan for four years, was notified Thursday that the school board will vote May 1 on terminating her contract. Administrators outlined seven reasons for firing her, including not following directives from Principal Ed Yoder regarding the editorial policy of the newspaper, altering the newspaper class curriculum, neglecting the yearbook program and engaging in a campaign placing East Allen County Schools and Yoder in a false light by implying they are intolerant.

The accusations stem from the publishing of an opinion piece in the Jan. 19 issue of the Tomahawk that questioned intolerance toward homosexuals. Shortly after the newspaper was distributed, district officials said the content of the column was inappropriate for an audience that includes children as young as 11 years old and that it should have been cleared first by Yoder. * * *

[S]upporters across the country are lining up to fight for Sorrell, who teaches other classes including AP English, and the students’ First Amendment rights.

The Student Press Law Center, an advocacy group for student newspapers based in Arlington, Va., is working to find a local attorney to help Sorrell in her fight. * * *

In recent weeks, Sorrell and her students have also received support from the Indiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Indiana High School Press Association and journalism professors and experts at Indiana and Ball State universities.

“A lot of groups just absolutely find this the most amazing thing that has happened in years in this state, to fire a teacher over a personal opinion column about tolerance in the schools,” said David Adams, a journalism professor at Indiana University and adviser for the Indiana Daily Student. In nearly four decades of working with student journalists, he said, he has never seen a case like this.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 31, 2007 03:23 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions