by Steven Ertelt
October 24, 2006
Detroit, MI (LifeNews.com) — A school board official at a school in Detroit is drawing criticism from area parents for supporting a national abortion protest where pro-life students remain silent during the day to raise awareness of the deaths of unborn children in abortions.
Some parents of students at Howell High School in the Detroit area are upset that students will be wearing t-shirts and armbands during the scheduled protest today.
Monday night, parents held a meeting with the school board and complained that school board trustee Wendy Day promoted the event in a personal blog on the Internet.
Day started the blog after she was elected to the board last May and Mike Witt, a parent who attended the meeting, said her promotion of the national protest went too far.
"It’s simply about pushing it on other people," he said, according to a WLNS-TV report. "It doesn’t belong in the school district. She’s entitled to her opinion, but it doesn’t belong, to force it on the kids."
But Day said that her main concern was that the school would protect the students’ free speech rights to participate in the silent protest.
"I said I hope their first amendment rights will be protected and that we would not infringe in those rights at all," Day said about her blog.
While another parent has called for a recall effort to remove Day from her post, parent and school board member Patrick Flynn disagreed.
"As board members, we can’t impede on the rights of students to protest anything," he said, according to WLNS-TV. "I think it’s our duty to make sure their rights are upheld."
Day said she would not resign and indicated that the community has the right to attempt to recall her.
The Virginia-based Stand True Ministries sponsors the national day, in which students remain silent during their time in school and distribute pro-life literature to people who want to know why they are silent. The event is done to help students understand that unborn children have no voice in the abortion debate.
Lynn Parrish, assistant superintendent of labor relations and personnel for the school district, previously told the Livingston News that students must participate in class activities — and Stand True encourages students who must talk during the day to wear armbands.
Parrish said she spent the day yesterday answering calls from parents.
"They do not want their children drawn into discussions about that," she told the newspaper. "That is the part that upset most of my callers."
Brian Kemper, president and founder of Stand True Ministries, said this is the third year the protest has been held and he has information on how students can participate and what legal rights they have.
“We explain to the students the rules and we post guidelines,” he said. “We let teachers know in advance. We know that it is going to draw attention, but that is the whole idea.”
He told the Livingston newspaper that pro-life students should resist efforts from school administrators to prevent them from participating.
“They’ve tried to, but they are not successful,” he said. “The schools will try to intimidate the students, but they have the right to stand up and do this.”