Fullerton Union High School Assistant Principal Reprimands Student for Advocating Gay Marriage
Assistant Principal Joe Abell publicly reprimanded student Kearian Giertz following a speech in which he advocated same-sex marriage rights.
James Gilliam, director of the Seth Walsh Student Rights Project of the ACLU of Southern California, issued the following statement:
“The ACLU of Southern California is troubled not just by the fact that a student was publically reprimanded by an assistant principal for expressing his constitutional right to free speech – and the desire of most people, gay or straight, to meet a partner with whom to spend the rest of one’s life – but by the response of Superintendant George Giokaris. While Giokaris is correct that the student’s answer violated no school rules, his contention that the matter should have been addressed privately is as incorrect as the original, public response. The student not only did not violate any school rules, but was protected by the First Amendment. His bravery is to be commended, not punished.”
Giertz was publically reprimanded by Vice Principal Joe Abell following a question asked him during the high school’s “Mr. Fullerton” competition. The question asked contestants where they saw themselves in 10 years. Giertz answered, “Hopefully, 10 years from now gay marriage will be legal in California.” Abell later apologized to Giertz, and Giokaris issued a statement saying the student had done nothing wrong, but said that the matter should have been dealt with privately.
The following letter was issued to the student body following the incident.
April 5, 2012
Dear Families and Friends,
I am very sorry for the actions of a member of the administrative team. Students and staff have been profoundly affected by the incident at the Mr. Fullerton Contest. We, as a school, have prided ourselves in how well such a diverse population embraces each other. When the staff and I watch the way our students interact in front of us, we do not see cliques and isolated groups. We see a wide variety of staff, students and parents, who work, play, support and get along. We are however, reminded that lapses in judgment and the thoughtless, insensitive actions of a few, including adults, hurt the very people we are here to protect and overshadow who we are as a school community.
With this realization, we are resolved to work as a staff and student body to positively improve the culture of our school. We will work with the experts at Orange County Human Relations and the District to develop and implement staff training and student programs that will give us the strategies and tools to make Fullerton Union High School a nurturing, safe haven for all our students.
Catherine L. Gach, Principal
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