Speech by Government Employees

ArtSpitzer ArtSpitzer at AOL.COM
Fri Jan 2 13:32:58 PST 1998

In a message dated 1/2/98 1:15:29 PM, you wrote:

Rick Duncan writes:

>I think I read that the ACLU is defending a lesbian who teaches in
>public school and has been instructed not to mention her sexual
>orientation in the classroom. Does this teacher have a constitutional
>right to discuss her sexual orientation in class? If so, then doesn't
>a school teacher have the right to discuss her religious orientation
>with her students in class? Isn't it viewpoint discrimination to
>answer yes in the former case but no in the latter?
>Art Spitzer, how do you answer these questions?
It's funny you should ask.
I saw the same news report last week, and I posted a message to the ACLU's
internal staff discussion group asking whether we were prepared to defend the
right of the teacher across the hall to discuss her personal religous views
with her students in class, especially considering that the case arises in
Utah -- and if not, whether we were right to have taken this case.
I was informed by lawyers involved in the case that the wire-service story had
not been carefully written, and that the case does *not* involve a teacher's
speech in the classroom, but rather a private conversation with a student who
had asked a personal question outside the classroom.  Happily for my
reputation for consistency (such as it may be), i believe I said on this list
just recently that I thought such a private conversation about religion
between a teacher and a student would generally be OK.
Since I agree with Rick about an out-of-class discussion of religion, is it
fair to assume that he agrees with the ACLU about an out-of-class discussion
of sexual preference (pending the abolition of public schools)?
Art Spitzer

More information about the Religionlaw mailing list