CBLDF Joins Coalition Protesting Censorship of Health Curriculum

December 1, 2014
By
Al Snyder, a gay parent who was the plaintiff in the famous Snyder v. Phelps case of 2011, leads the protest against Fink's demands. (Source: delmarvanow.com)

A community in Delaware is reconsidering a recently adopted health curriculum over the complaints of school board member and local pastor Shaun Fink. Today, CBLDF joined the National Coalition Against Censorship, the ACLU of Delaware, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, ABFFE, ALA-OIF, PEN America, and SCBWI to demand that the school not give in to Fink’s challenge.

CBLDF joins coalition efforts like these to protect the freedom to read comics. Censorship manifests in many ways, and the unique visual nature of comics makes them more prone to censorship than other types of books. Taking an active stand against all instances of censorship curbs precedent that could adversely affect the rights upon which comics readers depend.

Fink, a school board member in the Indian River School District, and a handful of supporters demanded the exclusion of any materials that contradicted their religious beliefs, especially those materials that labeled homosexuality as normal. The new curriculum does just that, and Fink demanded censorship of the curriculum, calling it biased.  NCAC argues that taking the action that Fink demands violates the First Amendment on multiple fronts, “abridging the freedom of speech” and violating the Establishment Clause (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”). NCAC writes:

Mr. Fink’s call to eliminate parts of the curriculum that discuss homosexuality and bisexuality, and educatestudents about HIV, STD, and pregnancy prevention, is based on his religious beliefs. As a result, acceding to his demands would violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. It would prefer one specific religious viewpoint on sexuality over other conflicting views, which the Indian River School District may not do. The Establishment Clause bars the government from endorsing any religion, and this “‘preclude[s] government from conveying or attempting to convey a message that religion or a particular religious belief is favored or preferred.’”

NCAC’s letter follows in its entirety. CBLDF shares NCAC’s hope that the school district makes their decision based on “scientifically- and educationally-sound grounds, rather than in response to complaints reflecting particular moral or religious beliefs.”

IndianRiver_NCAC

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