Congratulations Kate for fighting to keep your Planned Parenthood sticker on your laptop! Kate Persisted! pic.twitter.com/aQBRbRtlPU— Dianne Rearick ?????? (@RearickDianne) February 13, 2018
Sacred Heart Greenwich, an all-girls Roman Catholic school in Connecticut, threatened a student with expulsion after she showed up with a Planned Parenthood sticker on her laptop that read “I stand with Planned Parenthood."
Now that former students came to her defense, she might not be expelled after all.
Sophomore Kate Murray was told to remove the sticker from her laptop or not return to school the next academic year last Tuesday. But, as soon as former students heard about the incident, they got together to rally on Murray’s behalf. In no time, the group had drafted a letter asking the school board to protect the student’s freedom of speech and launched a petition online.
Former student Megan McGrath confirmed that several alumnae went as far as meeting with administrators about the incident. According to the the current student's mother, Tracy Murray, the pressure may have helped as the school has changed its mind, allowing the girl to remain enrolled.
“Kate has chosen to continue to display the sticker and is happy to remain a part of such a special community,” Murray’s mother told reporters. “We are moved by the outpouring of support by the alumnae and the community at large and are heartened by its encouragement of one young woman’s voice.”
Pamela Juan Hayes, the head of the school, said that while administrators at the school won’t comment on anything related to an individual student, they defend freedom of speech.
However, the school does not encourage students carrying banners, buttons, or stickers with “political, provocative, or promotional displays,” she said. According to Hayes, they can “stifle learning and limit honest debate.” So if necessary, she added, administrators will often “instruct students to take [the displays] down.”
Former students, some whose views on abortion are actually the opposite of Murray’s, said that the school should be celebrating and not shunning people with different points of view.
“This isn’t only about Planned Parenthood,” Charlotte Blutstein, a former student, said. “It’s about the hypocrisy of being taught that the school is an environment for open-minded discussion, encouraged to engage in debates about important issues, and then being punished for doing just that.”
She added that she would increase her monthly donations to Planned Parenthood after this incident.
As it turned out, threatening a current student with expulsion did nothing but bring more attention to the causes she backs.
If the school’s goal is to offer students the opportunity to discuss matters in an unbiased and fair environment, then perhaps, punishing a girl for being vocal about her beliefs might not be the best way to go about it.
Instead of promoting freedom and a healthy exchange of views, this behavior ends up promoting fear of holding an unpopular opinion.