In Long Island, school officials have banned the publication of a teenager’s George Floyd poem in the school’s magazine. These leaders argue that the poem about Floyd’s murder is “not appropriate” for the student magazine and may be sent a “dangerous” message. The family of a 16-year-old girl plans to sue Port Jefferson High School in New York for $2 million, claiming that it failed to include the poem titled “Derek Chauvin’s Ode to George Floyd: A Dark Sonnet.”
In the school’s magazine, the poet, 16-year-old Rudy Ray, wanted to express her views on Floyd’s death. However, because they thought his poem was too sensitive and included material that would have distressed the school’s mostly white student body, the administration refused to publish it.
Ray, a white girl, claims that her high school discriminated against her because she wrote a song that “advocated for the cause of African-Americans.” Ray claims that since the institution is controlled by whites, they are attempting to stifle a poem that addressed the issues faced by people of color.
The family of Rayhan Eldeir submitted a notice of claim to Suffolk County Supreme Court on April 4, 2018, ahead of the actual lawsuit. The notification states that Ray was deprived of his First Amendment right to free speech when he was forced to delete the poem dedicated to the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder.
“I thought this was a free country, and you have the right to express yourself in any way you choose,” said Ruby to the New York Post.
Ray, a white person, claims that her high school discriminated against her because she wrote a song that “promoted the cause of African-Americans.” Ray argues that since her institution is run by whites, they are attempting to stifle a poem that discussed the challenges faced by non-white people.
Ray’s family subsequently filed a notice of claim in Suffolk County Supreme Court, ahead of the actual lawsuit. The notification claims that Ray was deprived of his First Amendment Right to free speech when school officials failed to publish the poem honoring George Floyd’s death on the first anniversary of the assassination.
The Vandermeulen High School on the other hand stated that they would not put out the George Floyd poem “in order to please, protect, promote, placate and defend white racism in Respondents’ school and community, and white racism in general.”
The lawsuit against the school names the principal and magazine editor of the literary publication at issue. Only 1% of students at Vandermeulen High are Black, according to the Education Department of Port Jefferson.