Remember the game of telling someone a story and they tell 10 more people ... and the last person tells a different story? That’s what’s happened with the recent school yearbook issue in Clovis.
I raised the issue at the request of a local reporter and subsequently two other reporters the next day. No other interviews. After being told and seeing the two pages of pictures of students with quoted captions and being a parent with a child in middle school, I raised the issue of protecting minors (our children) from public exposure of their current thoughts that may harm their future.
I never mentioned the orientation of the students and in fact told the reporters I thought all the pictures on those pages violated the school code regarding public display of affection.
The quotes from me were accurate but people read the words with their own interpretation. I said “This was not the appropriate venue,” meaning a student yearbook highlighting our children’s school year.
The display was “negligent exploitation” of our children. Many people seem to have missed this most important point.
These students are minors and by law are protected. We, the adults, parents and school officials are responsible.
Children do have limited (diminished) constitutional rights. Example: If they break a law, they are not treated as adults nor can they be personally sued in civil actions.
Not wanting to break certain confidences, I kept silent until after the Clovis Municipal Schools board meeting in which public disclosures dramatically exposed my concerns.
• This yearbook is a part of the school curriculum and has an adult teacher assigned to its instruction just like an English class. Part of that teacher’s responsibility is to assure no school policies or codes are violated and no laws are broken. The teacher in charge has recently resigned that position. Adults were in charge and are accountable.
• The minor student yearbook staff was supervised and simply proceeded with its understanding it was OK.
• The most important fact brought out by parents of minor students was that not every parent had knowledge their child’s picture with comments were to be printed. Where are consent forms? One student and mother who did know objected and asked several people in the school to not publish the picture. They were denied. This mother and student were obviously distraught over, as she said, the “labeling” of her child. The mother and student yearbook staff member were upset due to this controversy indicating her child did wrong. One family said they are exploring legal remedies.
• The superintendent admitted in a meeting with pastors it should not have happened and stated in public that school policies will be reviewed and if necessary rewritten to ensure this doesn’t happen again. This is good but it is no excuse for the lack of proper adult supervision and oversight that has hurt these children and families. We have no idea how much damage has been caused by these “negligent” actions.
The issue is not and never was sexual orientation — it is the lack of proper adult protection of our children!
Walter Bradley is a resident of Clovis. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org