The First Amendment gives us one of our most treasured rights: freedom of speech. And that right extends to school. Students don’t lose their constitutional rights when they enter the classroom. But what happens if a teacher stifles a student’s freedom of speech because of politics? Here’s how one family stood up for their child’s rights in the classroom.
He [Donald Trump] has been my hero since third grade, and I’ve always loved him. He will always be my hero because he is making America great again. — Bella Moscato
What Are the Details?
Sixth-grader Bella Moscato chose President Donald Trump as her hero for a school project.
When her teacher heard that Bella chose President Trump, she said Donald Trump wasn’t allowed because “he spreads negativity and says bad stuff about women.” Bella says the teacher told her to pick a different hero in front of her classmates.
Bella told News 12 Long Island that her teacher specifically said former President Barack Obama would be okay.
Valerie Moscato, Bella’s Mother: I told her [Bella’s teacher], I said, “Listen, your views are your views, and you have a right to them. But you don’t have a right to spew your political opinions and your views on my daughter. That’s wrong. And the fact that there’s another president, somebody picked another president, and you were okay with that, that’s showing bias. That’s showing double standards.
What Does the School Say?
Sachem Central School District superintendent Dr. Kenneth Graham denied the allegations in a statement.
The statement said, “It is not accurate that this student was told that they were not allowed to conduct research or report on any individual for a school assignment, including President Trump. To the best of our knowledge, by choice the student is still conducting their project of President Trump.”
What Do Bella’s Parents Say?
Valerie Moscato, Bella’s Mother: The school district is taking a stand that this is inaccurate, this didn’t happen, that we misunderstood. That is totally false. So they are protecting this teacher instead of protecting my child.
Is there anything you’d like to say to our listeners who have children in school right now?
Arthur Moscato, Bella’s Father: We have gotten just as much support from people who are not supporters of the president but see this as an issue.
Valerie Moscato, Bella’s Mother: I would encourage parents to really speak out and stand to their ground and not to be intimidated because this is very wrong. To just try to brush it under the rug…it’s not teaching our children the right thing to do… Nobody should be shut down, nobody should be denied their First Amendment rights, nobody should have their civil rights violated, no one on either end.
Press play to listen. What would you do if your child’s teacher told them to pick a different hero because of politics? Let us know in the comments below.