For each of the two scenarios below, answer the questions posed at the end of each situation. In total (combining both items 1 and 2) your responses should be between 3 and 5 double-spaced pages. Rubrics are provided for both scenarios. Each Item is worth 10 points.
A new law, such as ones that have been proposed in some state legislatures in recent years, has just been passed in your state that prohibits any mention or discussion of LGBTQ in the classroom. Even if the curriculum does not explicitly mention LGBTQ, any questions regarding being gay, lesbian, or transgender which might be raised by students in the classroom are to be ignored under penalty of law.
You are the principal of a high school where the cultural issues class addresses marriage and other human relationships in society. The teacher of the class comes to you and informs you that there are some LGBTQ students in the class who have raised questions about human sexuality and non-heterosexual relationships. The teacher says she has ignored them, but because of the questions some members of the class have begun to taunt the LGBTQ students for having brought up the subject. The teacher expresses serious concerns that some of the LGBTQ students could experience emotional issues stemming from the situation, and could even be in danger of being physically harmed by other students. It is her firm belief that she must break the law and discuss these matters with all of the students openly and sympathetically. The teacher also informs you that she identifies as gay.
- Does this case present a conflict between the law and ethics? Explain how it does or why it does not.
- Is the fact that the teacher identifies as LGBTQ relevant to the case? Why or why not?
- What decision as the school leader will you make? How would you respond if the teacher does address the issue openly in defiance of the law?
- Do you have any ethical responsibilities to the LGBTQ students in this matter? Why or why not?
It is holiday time and you are the principal of your community’s only middle school. Every year the school has sponsored a Christmas pageant which was somewhat religious in orientation, reflecting the prevailing sentiment of the majority of the parents. This also reflects your sentiments as well. The local churches have provided many resources to make this annual event a success and most of the students always look forward to participating in the singing, orchestral performances, and Biblical re-enactments of the events celebrated by the season. This year, however, some parents of newly arrived Islamic students approach you and inform you that they do not want to have their children to participate in the pageant and that, further, they believe it is inappropriate for the pageant to sponsored by the school at all. You take this concern to your parent advisory group, which does not include the Islamic parents, and to the local clergy association. They say that a minority of parents should not have a right to stop this event which is favored by the majority. Instead, they recommend that the Islamic students be excused from any participation in the event itself and from any rehearsals conducted during school time as well. They also remind you or your own religious connections to the community and that to “stray” would show ineffective leadership on your part. You know the law regarding this issue, but you also know that it has been conveniently avoided over the years because there never was an objection before.
- Do you have any ethical responsibilities to address in the matter? Is so, what are they? If not, why?
- Assume you decide not to change the Holiday pageant. What might be the fall out and how would you address it?
- Assume you decide to make changes to accommodate the students of Islamic faith. Making any changes will, undoubtedly, hurt your standing in the school community. How would you address this with the community and your school faculty and staff?