Reader Kaitie is facing a bit of a dilemma. Her boyfriend (a senior in high school) attends a public school where possible pro-Christian videos are being played for students. He’s not about to stir the pot over it and Kaitie is wondering if there’s anything she can do about it even though she’s no longer attending the school (and if so, what):
I am a freshman in college and I attended a high school in a very small, rural town in bible belt Missouri. My boyfriend is still going to school there and has informed me of something very disturbing. The school has an educational time every Tuesday and Thursday called LEAD time in which students are taught lessons by senior and junior mentors and sometimes shown videos with life lessons and such.
This week a video was shown with an obvious religious bias. It showed two kids skydiving along to Christian rock music in the intro, I guess to make them seem rebellious and interesting, and then showed the two having a conversation. They talked about morals (sexual promiscuity, lying, cheating, etc) and although the boyfriend said they never actually “brought it back to Jesus,” it was very obviously implied, as if the Christian music at the beginning wasn’t obvious enough!
I was outraged and he didn’t seem to understand why I was so surprised. “You’ve been away from [the school] too long” he said, because really, I shouldn’t be surprised that something like that was shown at that school. The thing is, last year things like that weren’t shown, but I do remember an incident in which a video about violence against homosexuals was shown and several students complained. “Edgy” videos were never shown during LEAD time again.
I told the boyfriend that he should complain about this video just like the Christians complained about the last one, but he wasn’t exactly sure how to go about it. He is more of a skeptic than an atheist, but his parents are churchgoers so he can’t go the common “parents complain to the administration” route. He isn’t nearly as “activist” as I am when it comes to his disbelief and I doubt he wants attention drawn to him for being anti-religion at that school, especially because I was known for being outspoken about my atheism when I went there and we think people might think he is just following me or that I converted him or something.
While I would really like to see him step up to the plate on this one, I doubt he will do anything. He says that if another video similar to this one is shown (it’s part of a series) that has religious undertones, he will maybe say something. My question is: is there anything I can do to complain if I don’t go to school there anymore? I would like to help my boyfriend find some more nonbelievers at the school so he doesn’t have to go it alone, because I know they exist, but they’re hard to find. Any advice for me or the boyfriend?
Do you know of any other time when students have fought something like this in a public school?
This was part of the message I sent back to Kaitie:
My own thinking: There’s not much you can do from a distance. Someone inside the school has to take action. If you attended the high school, perhaps there’s a teacher you’re close to that you could contact about this? (Preferably a tenured one.) A teacher might be able to put a stop to it without much legal action. Without any hard evidence that there is a pro-Christian message being displayed, it might be tough to do anything, though. The music itself isn’t a smoking gun (unless there are several mentions of Jesus per song).
Does anyone else have better advice?