COLLEGE DEMANDS FEMALES HAVE TRANSVAGINAL ULTRASOUNDS
Sonography students required to give up bodily privacy
image: http://www.wnd.com/files/2011/10/runruh.jpgBOB UNRUH
Transvaginal ultrasound is a pelvic ultrasound used to examine female reproductive organs (Photo: Twitter/Pregnancy Videos)
An appeals court has been asked to revive a lawsuit over a college’s decision to “verbally abuse,” penalize academically and threaten with a “blacklist” several students in a sonography course who objected to being used as transvaginal ultrasound test subjects for their classmates, who included men.
“Students don’t surrender their bodily privacy rights when they walk into a public college classroom,” said David Hacker, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the students.
A district court judge had dismissed a suit brought by Melissa Milward, Elyse Ugalde and Ashley Rose against Florida’s Valencia College, its officials and board.
The students then called on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review and revive their complaints.
“The fact that we are even discussing whether female students should have to undergo this at the hands of their classmates is bad enough, but the fact that the college retaliated against the students – not just once, but multiple times – for expressing concern about it only makes it more reprehensible,” said Hacker.
“The district court’s dismissal of the students’ lawsuit on the grounds that their complaints are school-sponsored speech instead of their own speech is illogical,” he said.
At the lower court, the judge reasoned that complaining about orders to surrender one’s bodily privacy and undergo a vaginal probe is not protected speech.
“Asserting that the students’ complaints constitute school-sponsored speech is equivalent to saying that the college is complaining about itself,” the brief says. “The student complaints about college activities, whether curricular or extracurricular, are not school-sponsored speech.
“Surely, the college would not contend that every time a student complaints, whether it be about the curriculum or the ineptitude of the athletic program, he or she is engaged in speech sponsored by the college,” the brief continued. “Indeed, no one would think that student complaints about cafeteria food are school-sponsored. Thus the district court’s conclusion that the students’ speech was school-sponsored is not only illogical, but flat wrong based on the facts and law.”
The ADF brief also was on behalf of Concerned Women for America.
“The Supreme Court and the courts of appeals treat college students like adults, not like children in public elementary and high schools,” the brief explained to the 11th Circuit. “This means that college students have the same First Amendment rights as citizens in the community at large. But in evaluating the plaintiffs-appellants First Amendment claims, the district court applied the school-sponsored speech doctrine from Hazelwood … a doctrine reserved for adjudication fo speech claims in primary and secondary schools.”
The idea that colleges are a marketplace of ideas is accurate, “except, unfortunately, for students in the sonography program at Valencia State College.”
“The case at bar would be shocking if the only facts were how defendants-appellants … treated Mss. Milward, Ugalde and Rose … when they complained about the sonography curriculum: shunning, verbal abuse, academic penalties, harsh grading, and threats to ‘blacklist’ the students from future employment.
“But the fact that college employees acted this way after mandating that the students surrender their bodily privacy and undergo transvaginal ultrasounds, not just once, but on multiple occasions throughout the semester, sets this case apart from many others and casts a long shadow of doubt on the district court’s decision to dimiss.”
The brief warned that there could be consequences of the college’s practice.
“Under the district court’s logic, a college could decide in a religion course that all students must pray to Jesus and then punish a Muslim student for complaining. … A college could compel a Mormon student to step on a piece of paper containing Jesus’ name and then charge the student with violating the student code of conduct when he refused.”
But the school’s response is cause for alarm, the brief contended. One faculty member told them to find another school, Rose was stopped from observing a critical technique lesson, and Shaheen was threatened with academic and professional punishment.
“Defendant [Maureen] Bugnacki threatened to blacklist the students with potential employers … and defendant [Suda] Amdot threatened to bar Rose from clinical practice at a local hospital, gave her failing grades, and yelled at her, which resulted in a panic attack,” the brief explained.
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