Thursday, September 30, 2004

High School Debate Limited in South Carolina 

Advocate.com reports that high school principal David Damm and school superintendent Thomas Dowling of Fort Mill, S.C. have taken the previously approved topics of gay marriage, abortion and stem cell research off the slate of issues to be used in a student run debate on October 19. The debate was designed to be similar to the upcoming presidential debates.

A school announcement stated:
"The issues to be discussed will be education, health care, economic growth and jobs, the war in Iraq, taxation and the national debt, faith-based initiatives, energy policy and foreign policy.... Because of South Carolina laws, we cannot discuss such controversial issues as stem cell research, abortion, or homosexual marriages."
Damm and Dowling have stated their belief that the South Carolina prohibition on discussing abortion or gay sex in health class likely extends to these types of discussions also. South Carolina's chief counsel for the Education Department disagrees, stating that there is no prohibition against general discussion of any topic, and that stem cell research is not included in the health class topic ban.

By the way, Fort Mill High School is a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation "Model School," as well as a "Blue Ribbon School" under the No Child Left Behind program.
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UPDATE (10/4/04): After consulting with the education department's attorneys, the school administrators have now reversed, and the students will be allowed to include the topics of their choice. Perhaps they should have checked with the lawyer first if they were concerned about a problem with a state educational law? Are they working with Jim DeMint?

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 3:54 PM