A Denton, Texas, teacher reportedly refused to grade two students' reports that answered the question "What are you interested in?"
Marshall Williams and Alex Wright, seniors at Denton High School, said they both decided to write papers related to guns. Alex wrote about hunting and shopping at the outdoors sporting giant Cabella's, and Marshall wrote about attending the Fort Worth gun show over the weekend.
Their English teacher, Dewey Christian, who did not outline any off-limits subject matter, reprimanded the two students in front of their peers and threatened them with zeros if they didn't rewrite their papers, FOX 4 reported Wednesday.
"So because it had guns in it you refused to grade it?" Marshall's mother, Kimberly Williams, asked the teacher in a confrontation she recorded with her cellphone.
"Not just guns, but you see we've had a certain amount of violence and things in schools," Mr. Christian replied.
The Denton Independent School District said in a statement: "The teacher has accepted the paper and apologized to the student for misperceptions. The teacher's intent was for guns not to be trivialized in any school situation because of recent events."
"I don't feel like I've gotten an apology yet," Marshall told FOX 4. "I feel like he has just stomped on our right to free speech. He told us we would not be allowed to express ourselves and didn't even consider what we had said. He didn't have a clue of the content of my paper before he told me ... he just knew that my paper was about guns before he told me that I would be getting a zero on the assignment."
His mother called it blatant censorship.
"If it went against any district policy I would support it completely, but it doesn't. It's just his own moral beliefs trying to be put in his classroom and I disagree with that," Ms. Williams told FOX 4.
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