How would you feel if your 11 year old daughter or son came home and told you that their teachers had demanded to inspect their underwear?
Would you be outraged at the invasion of your child’s privacy? Well, that’s exactly how some parents in Gustine, Texas felt.
Gustine is a small town in central Texas that lies in the middle of a triangle drawn between Fort Worth, Abilene and Temple. According to the 2000 census, the population is a whopping 457, of which 26.5% were under the age of 18. The small town is served by the Gustine Independent School District. The town is so small that everyone knows everyone and anything that happens at school is never a secret.
The uproar in the small Texas town started when teachers at the elementary school found feces on the floor of the gym. This wasn’t the first time that poop had been found on the gym floor and on Monday, the teachers decided they had enough and were determined to find out who the culprit was.
Teachers rounded up about two dozen kids. They took the boys into one room and the girls into another and then all of the kids were ordered to lower their pants to the bottom of their butts. Students who didn’t want to were ordered to and told they had no choice.
One girl, 11 year old Eliza Medina was one of the ones who didn’t want to but was force to expose her underwear. She told the local news:
“I said I didn’t want to, but I was told I had to because all the kids had to.”
“I felt uncomfortable, and I didn’t want to do it. I felt like they violated my privacy.”
When Maria Medina, Eliza’s mother, heard what happened, she was furious. She told the media:
“I was furious… I mean, I was furious. If you can’t do your job or you don’t know what you’re doing, you need to be fired. You shouldn’t be here.”
Ken Baugh, the school superintendent, admitted that the actions of the teacher were inappropriate but tried to smooth it over like a silver tongued Politician by telling the media that the students were only asked to reveal a few inches of the top of the underwear. However Eliza said that it was more than several inches that in fact they had to reveal down to their butts. When the media asked to interview Baugh, they were told that he was unavailable as he was meeting with a parent.
As the public education system has become more liberal and progressive, they have no qualms with trampling on the rights of students. Whether religious, free speech, political, search and seizure or privacy, educators continue to violate the constitutional rights of students. Sadly, in many cases they are allowed to get away with it because the students are afraid to speak out against them.
I applaud Eliza Medina for speaking up and bringing what happened to the attention of her parents. However, in my opinion, she should have absolutely refused to comply. Not only would I have refused, but I did.
In sixth grade, we had a student teacher from England. He was cruel and merciless whenever our teacher was out of the room. He went way beyond the forms of corporal punishment allowed back in the early 1960s. One day, a friend of mine who was a very good student was moving his lips as he read silently to himself. The student teacher kicked him on his tailbone, sending him to the floor in pain. I yelled at the student teacher to stop as he was preparing to kick him again while my friend was writhing on the floor in pain. I was told to stand up and bend over to be kicked and I refused because I believed he had exceeded his legal bounds. As I was sent out of the room, I told the rest of my classmates to rebel against the sadistic English tyrant. Within 5 minutes there were 8 of us from the class standing outside. We went to the principal’s office and told her what had been taking place. The next day that student teacher was nowhere to be seen and both my teacher and principal told me and the others that we did the right thing.
I don’t want to get students in trouble, but there comes a time that even they, as young as they are, have to stand up for their rights. In the case of what happened at the Gustine Elementary School, Eliza Medina should not have complied and if necessary demanded an attorney before she was illegally ordered to reveal her underwear.