For Paschal High School students, it was a lesson in many ways.
On their front sidewalk this week, a handful of anti-abortion protesters from a Burleson-based group carried poster-sized, graphic images of aborted fetuses as part of an “Operation Frontlines” campaign.
Inside, students studied as a civics-lesson-come-to-life paraded out front.
Finally, one student countered free speech the best way: with more free speech.
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Iris Hayes, a senior, and two friends from Texas Christian University greeted the young protesters with their own picket line, showing giant photos of puppies and kittens.
Parents and neighbors complained about traffic and graphic images, but protestors followed laws requiring them to stay on public property and not block a sidewalk.
Principal Terri Mossige struck the right balance in her email to students and parents.
“These last few days have provided us an opportunity to reflect on the American Constitution and the rights it provides,” she wrote.
“ … As United States citizens, we have the chance to see our rights in action every day. Paschal High School is a microcosm of our society. … It is up to all of us to respond in a positive manner and keep the focus on what is important, providing a high-quality education in a safe and orderly environment.”
Given the Abolitionist Society of Fort Worth’s history, a disorderly protest would not have been surprising.
Lately, the group adopted the name Abolitionist Society and affiliated with Vancouver, Wash.-based Abolish Human Abortion, which is protesting at schools nationwide.
Thankfully, protests here remained peaceful.
And with any luck, lessons about free speech were learned on both sides of the picket line.