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BHS students demand right to express opinions

Posted at 4:31 PM, Oct 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-06 22:01:57-04

A newspaper article at Bakersfield High School is creating controversy.

The editorial piece talked about political correctness in society, highlighting the pros and cons of the Black Lives Matter movement and LGBTQ issues.

But some students said one side of the article was poorly written and offensive.

"As soon as I read it, I was angry," said senior Raven Carnes, one of many students voicing their concerns over the article.

In protest, they wore signs with the school's disclaimer that is posted on their website reading, "Bakersfield High School does not allow discrimination based on actual race, color, ancestry, national origin, ethnic group identification, age, religion, marital or parental status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or gender expression, or genetic information; the perception of one or more of such characteristics; or association with a person or group with one of more of these actual or perceived characteristics."

Carnes said, many students, including herself, wore the sign but were asked by school staff to take it off.

"My problem wasn't that it was published," said Carnes, "My problem was that the school was trying to tell me that I couldn't share my opinion."

23ABC reached out to B.H.S. Principal, David Reese, who said students are allowed to wear the signs so long as they don't promote anything illegal, have vulgar language or disrupt class.

Carnes said, "the school threatened punishment and told me I had to stop talking about it and tweeting about it."

According to the California Student Free Expression Law, students are allowed to print materials and wear them.

Reeves said students have not been disciplined for wearing the signs and their rights have not been violated.

Meanwhile, Carnes said she does is not opposed other people expressing opinions, she is against having hers suppressed.

"We want to be able to talk about this without fear of being punished. I want students to be able to share this without fear of being kicked out of their class. I want to be able to share my opinions just as equally as she is," she said.