San Luis Obispo High School's student newspaper and a teacher’s public reaction to some stories published therein are sparking debate.
The latest issue of the school paper Expressions featured content on the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community. In a letter to the editor, Michael Stack, a special education teacher at the high school, countered LGBTQ viewpoints with verses from the Bible.
On the cover of the May 2017 issue, two teenagers or women look to be kissing. A two-page spread in the issue has three articles on the LGBTQ community, including a ‘coming out’ story and articles on LGBTQ relationships.
Aric Sweeny, a senior at SLO High School and editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, says the issue came out last week followed by a response from the teacher.
“My adviser showed me it two days ago, actually, and he just said, ‘Are we going to run this?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, we should run it,’ and it was from a teacher: Mr. Stack,” Sweeny said.
Stack’s letter starts by saying, “I love the staff and students at SLOHS. My students know that. But I love God more, so in obedience to him, I am writing this letter.”
It goes on to cite a Bible verse from Romans, 1:16-32. In part, it said:
"That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserve."
The letter drew negative comments online. That dialogue trickled into the school.
“To post something where all your students can see and your students can now know your opinion on that, that's an issue,” Steven Saavedra, a student at SLO High School, said. “And though he has freedom of speech, I think it was used inappropriately.”
Saavedra says the letter impacts the student body.
“It does affect the students, especially the LGBT students at this school,” Saavedra said. “It's not welcoming, it’s not inclusive, it isn’t very supportive.”
Sweeny says the conversation the letter sparked is what’s important.
“Good journalism includes giving voice to both sides regardless of whether or not I agree with him because I'll say up front, I disagree with everything he said in the letter to the editor, but I decided to include it anyway because it's important to give him a voice,” Sweeny said.