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Education Anti-Hero: Florida Principal David Davis

August 25, 2008

Instead of standing up for the human rights of a gay female student who had been harassed by fellow students, Ponce de Leon High School’s (former) Principal David Davis lectured her, outed her to her parents, ordered her to stay away from other children, and repressed student peers who tried to stand up for her. A pretty thorough explanation of the situation is given by AP writer Melissa Nelson in this Chicago Tribune pick up of the story.

And if the student (thankfully an anonymous “Jane Doe”) had wanted to appeal her case to local education higher ups, the Holmes County School superintendent, Steve Griffin, defended his small-town community’s “values” even while he sadly had to force out his principal. Thank goodness for U.S. District Judge Richard Smoak and the ACLU (at least in this case).

This is what happens when education is confused with an indoctrination to what Matthew Arnold called “stock notions.” While the opening of one’s mind should not imply a rejection of values, it should also not be a situation where erroneous prejudices are simply and unquestionably passed along.

What does the phrase “human rights” mean to Ponce de Leon and Holmes County citizens like Davis and Griffin, the supposed education leaders of that area of Florida? Nothing, apparently. – TL

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