In a victory for concerned public school parents everywhere, a federal judge last week issued a temporary restraining order overturning an attempt from school administrators in Maine to ban a vocal critic from district property for expressing his disagreement with their policies, as the Washington Free Beacon reports.
The controversy arose after conservative activist Shawn McBreairty spoke at meetings of the Regional School Unit 22 in Hampden in an effort to protest, among other things, library books he argued contained pornography and promoted transgenderism.
Ongoing tension between McBreairty and the school board resulted in the latter imposing a ban on the former entering district property due to his allegedly “repeated and deliberate failure to comply with reasonable School Board policies,” and his conduct at an April meeting in which he played a recording of a conversation he had with the Board chair in which he complained of the “hardcore anal sex books” available to students in the library.
In tossing the district’s attempt to prevent McBreairty’s participation in any virtual or in-person school events, U.S. District Judge Nancy Torreson found that he stands a credible chance of prevailing on the merits of his claim that the administrators’ actions are in violation of his First Amendment rights and that the board was selectively applying its policy regarding acceptable speech by declaring McBreairty’s comments to constitute “vulgarity.”
As the Bangor Daily News noted, Judge Torreson said in her opinion that “Here, it is hard to shake the sense that the school board is restricting the speech because the board disagrees with both McBreairty’s opinions and the unpleasantness that accompanies them,” characterizing the district’s actions as a potential act of unlawful viewpoint discrimination.
In terms of the district’s claim of vulgarity or obscenity as justification for banning McBreairty, the judge said his mention of “hardcore anal sex” in the recording played at the aforementioned meeting did not rise to the legal definition of obscenity, because it was “not appealing to any prurient interest” and was introduced simply to make a “political or philosophical point.”
While the outcome does represent an encouraging win for parents wishing to play an active role in their children’s education, McBreairty’s attorney, Marc Randazza, said that the district’s speech policies remain troublingly vague and capable of ensnaring others due to their prohibition on “vulgarity,” “gossip,” and “irrelevance.”
“There’s a policy against criticizing any school employees or officials,” Randazza explained, noting that a parent can “go there and say nice things about him, but you can’t criticize him. Tell me how in the heck that passes the First Amendment muster.”
With school boards across the country engaging in blatant attempts to limit and censor public speech in opposition to their progressive indoctrination programs, it is incumbent upon parents and concerned citizens nationwide to follow McBrearity’s example and insist that their constitutional rights be respected.