A Wisconsin high school newspaper is appearing in headlines of its own, but for all the wrong reasons - a column the paper ran is angering local gay families, and rightfully so.
Shawano High School’s Hawks Post published a column on the editorial page as part of a package on same-sex parents. One part of the package said sexual orientation doesn’t determine one’s ability to raise kids, but the column in question called homosexuality a sin punishable by death and denounced gay couples raising children.
One 13-year-old student saw the article and brought it home to his dads and three siblings. They talked to the school superintendent and the district released an apology, but they’re worried that isn’t enough.
“I’m worried about how this is going to affect my kids,” said Uttecht, who also is an elected member of the Menominee Indian Head Start Policy Council. “And I’m worried how gay students in school will be treated. It took me a long time to come out, and I think this just really sets things back by being so closed-minded. This sets things back 20 or 30 years.
“I know there are at least three openly gay families in the district, there’s probably more. What effect is this going to have on my kids? And how are other people going to react?”
As the article states, this also calls into question matters of free speech. As young journalists, the students on the newspaper staff technically have the right to say practically whatever they want. The First Amendment is a good thing, we’d all agree. So what do we do in cases like this?
Here’s my take: yes, these students had the right to share these opinions, but they had the responsibility not to. One of the guiding ethical principles from the Society of Professional Journalists is to minimize harm, a rule that was clearly ignored in this case. What these students did was legal, but it was in no way justified, and they should be punished the way any professional who made the same serious error would be punished.
What say you?
This is just horrible, of course its understandable in some cases as some people just don’t understand what is too far. Luckily our paper hasn’t done this before.