The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Private school invades private life

In the minds of most, the mere mention of a private school conjures up images of rigidity, ranging from the old-school vision of teachers smacking students with rulers to the more modern illustration of kids lined up in their perfectly pleated uniforms. However, matching socks aside, there is a question of just how much rigidity is acceptable before it borders on unethical.

Last week in California, 14-year-old Shay Clark was expelled from a private Christian school when it was discovered that her parents did not live up to the school’s moral standards. They were not criminals nor drug dealers nor child abusers. The couple, however, is not composed of one man and one woman. Shay Clark’s parents are lesbian partners who have been together for 22 years, and according to the administration, that is an unacceptable family life for a student who attends the school.

According to the Associated Press, in a letter written to Tina Clark, the girl’s biological mother, Superintendent Leonard Stob was quoted as saying, “Your family does not meet the policies of admission,” due to the fact that the school’s policy requires that parents not participate in things that are “immoral or inconsistent with a positive Christian life style, such as cohabitating without marriage or in a homosexual relationship.”

Although expelling the student is not illegal because of the fact that the school is private and not public, the issue here is not one of legality, but of ethics. When it comes down to it, the student herself is not in opposition to any of the school’s morals, and therefore, does not deserve such treatment. Had she been advocating homosexuality in the hallways of her strict Christian school, her expulsion would have made a bit more sense. However, she did not choose the lifestyle of her parents and therefore, it is unacceptable for her to be expelled because of their ways of living.

Would Shay Clark have been expelled from school if one of her parents participated in the immoral practices of alcoholism or domestic abuse? Probably not.

In today’s overtly-secularized society, it is easy for this to be chalked up to narrow-minded conservatism. However, it extends far beyond that, and if this type of precedent is being set by private schools, it allows such bigotry to occur without question.

Considering that Christianity condemns looking down on people of different race, gender, or ethnicity, why should family life be any different?

Expelling a student and making her into a social outcast because of her nontraditional family life is just as immoral. No matter where life takes her in the future, or which school she attends next, Clark is going to be known as “that girl who got expelled.”

Simply, intolerance is unacceptable, no matter what the circumstance, and using religion as a way of justifying such bigotry is outlandish.

Maybe this “Christian” school should reacquaint itself with the ideals of “Love thy neighbor” and “What would Jesus do?” before they flex their unethical muscles and expel any more “immoral” students.

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