SPARTANBURG, S.C. — A mother in Spartanburg County, South Carolina is suing the school district, school and principal after her daughter’s essay on LGBTQ rights was deemed “age-inappropriate” by the elementary school’s principal, Elizabeth Foster.
The lawsuit states that the students of Anderson Mill Elementary School were assigned a project to write a paper of any topic, addressed “to society.” The letters would be, according to the mother, then be assembled and published for the other students to take home after the project was completed. After reviewing the girl’s essay on LGBTQ rights, however, Foster decided to pull the girl’s essay and not publish it in the finished project for her fellow classmates to take home. According to Foster, the topic was not “age-appropriate” and had the potential to upset the parents of other students.
The mother, Hannah Robertson, and her daughter are both advocates of LGBTQ rights. The lawsuit states that the essay was intended by her daughter as a way to educate society on how to treat members of the LGBTQ community with equality.
According to the lawsuit, Foster instructed Hannah Robertson’s daughter to change her essay to discuss bullying instead of the original topic. This was, according to Robertson, a violation of her daughter’s First Amendment right to free speech. The essay, after two drafts, reads:
I don’t know if you know this but peoples view on Tran’s genders is an issue. People think that men should not dress like a women, and saying mean things. They think that they are choosing the wrong thing in life. In the world people can choose who they want to be not being told that THEIR diction is wrong. I hope people understand that people can hurt themselves from others hurting their feelings. People need to think before they speak because one word can hurt someone’s feelings. We need to fix this because this is getting out of hand!”
The plaintiffs seek to “recover compensatory damages for emotional pain and suffering as well as other damages as deemed appropriate by the Court” from this lawsuit.