SLO High School principal censors student film, video

June 8, 2016

Paintbrushes by Cora

OPINION by LAURA ALBERS

San Luis Obispo High School Principal Leslie O’Connor refuses to allow a film to be shown, despite over 400 signatures on a petition and over 2,250 views of the film on YouTube.

Every year, SLOHS graduating seniors have an opportunity to showcase their talents at the annual Senior Showcase, held at the PAC. Interspersed with announcements of academic achievements and scholarship awards, seniors play music, perform skits and dances, and otherwise leave the audience with a taste for their talents. The Senior Showcase, this year held on June 9 at 6 p.m., is open to everyone in the community.

This year, SLOHS Principal Leslie O’Connor decided to put his own design on the event by censoring one of the student’s submissions. CeCe Devaney, a high-achieving academic student who also managed to sweep both this year’s Black & Gold Track & Field Award and the 2016 Female Athlete of the Year award, submitted a raw and beautiful film about her experiences in high school.

Principal O’Connor told CeCe that he wouldn’t allow it in the showcase because it was “too provocative.” Fellow senior Summer Truschke started a petition requesting that CeCe’s film be included in the Showcase.

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The petition, now closed with over 400 signatures – including some SLOHS teachers and staff –  was delivered to O’Connor’s office on Monday, June 6, requesting a response within 24 hours. At this time, O’Connor has not responded.

CeCe’s film artistically and poetically describes a high school experience that is easily relatable, while leaving the viewer with an uplifting message of the powers of choice and hope.

Guesses at what is “provocative” in the eyes of SLOHS administrators are numerous, including their reaction to a mention of loving both boys and girls.One SLOHS teacher wondered if O’Connor’s reaction to the film is in response to the mental health issues students face, and the school’s inability to effectively help students with mental health challenges.

Earlier this year, a SLOHS student committed suicide. The unnamed teacher wonders if O’Connor is trying to detract attention from the truth that teenagers – even those at his school – have problems that need to be dealt with.

 


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SamLouis

I wonder for a moment if anyone considered the possibility that time is limited at this event and that CeeCee’s classmates simply produced better material (most of it live) than she did?


achillesheal

Did you watch that film? It’s a work of art and it is powerful, provocative, and real.


I’d venture to guess its a bit better than the lip synching to lady gaga that you’ll get at the PAC from some of the acts.


SamLouis

How do you know that it’s better or even as good as what will be performed LIVE at this event?


achillesheal

I don’t know as I have not yet been to the live event – as it is tonight – that’s why I said “I’d venture a guess”…


However, I have been watching live “talent” performances at the HS for the past 4 years and although there are some talented kids, but there are quite a few with no talent who love to get on stage.


If it is purely I live event, I get it. That’s not the sentiment and facts conveyed in the opinion piece or that of the students of which I have 2 at the HS.


Pelican1

The Principal told he “the film is too provocative.” Are you suggesting the Principal lied? Or is the Principal just another example of this helicopter mentality that refuses to let our children become free thinking, independent, self styled, responsible individuals…as they should be?


SamLouis

Perhaps there was a number of reasons not to view this clip at that specific event (an event that is a celebration) and that he chose the one that he hopes would be least offensive to the producer?


The more I think about it, videos like this definitely have a place, but a joyous prelude to commencement isn’t one of them.


Pelican1

The greatest danger to the world is not the bad people but it’s the good people who don’t speak out. CeCe has spoken out, as she should have.

A “joyous prelude” to commencement takes on many forms. For her, it was the time and the place.


SamLouis

Too bad she chose the wrong forum!


Pelican1

Please explain WHY the Principal told her it was too provocative. There was nothing mentioned about it being the wrong forum…until it became clear that the censorship would not be accepted well by most.


r0y

My first thoughts, about two minutes into the “film” were of boredom. Maybe I am not the “art house” film type, but it was not very watchable for me. Your comment about better “entertainment” could be valid, but Leslie did cite the “provocative” nature as the reason.


I did not see all of it, I bailed about 3 minutes in, so I don’t know the whole piece, but from what I saw, it seemed neither provocative nor entertaining. Of course, I have two teens, so I get a full dose of “teenism” all the time, couple that with the cesspool that is public education, and there is a LOT of “repair” that needs to happen outside of “school.”


micsca

The film was quite good. The experiences not at all uncommon. High School is a government institution, run by government workers who have delusions that their thoughts and beliefs matter. What is provocative is the poor quality of education that these government workers provide to our students.


slocalgal

Some background info might help shed some light on the situation. Principal Leslie O’Connor was raised in a strict Irish Catholic family. He immigrated from Ireland to California on a college soccer scholarship but was injured so wasn’t able to play. Instead, he studied to get his teaching credential, married a U.S. citizen and gained legal residency.


Sadly, it seems Mr. O’Connor is unable to set his is own personal beliefs and bias aside.


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From Wikipedia:

In Ireland, the state retains wide-ranging laws which allow for censorship, including specific laws covering films, advertisements, newspapers and magazines.


Ireland’s Film Censors Office, renamed in 2008 as the Irish Film Classification Office, heavily cut films and videos for rental release, or placed high age ratings on them.


The Irish Constitution states that “The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law”.The new blasphemy law was enacted in 2009, allowing for fines of up to €25,000… The text defines the crime where: he or she publishes or utters matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion, and (b) he or she intends, by the publication or utterance of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage.

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Get with the times, Mr. O’Connor. This is America!


SamLouis

So in sum you’re an anti-Catholic, anti-Irish bigot? Just imagine for a moment if your opening was:


“Some background info might help shed some light on the situation. Principal Leslie O’Connor was raised in a strict Muslim family. He immigrated from Saudi Arabia to California on a college soccer scholarship…”


Oh, wait, that sort of bigotry isn’t acceptable is it? Let’s try this:


“Some background info might help shed some light on the situation. Principal Leslie O’Connor was raised in very loose, morally relativist family. The son of two “married” men, he moved from Frisco to San Luis Obispo on a college soccer scholarship…”


No, that wouldn’t be tolerated either. Keep your anti-Catholic, anti-Irish bigotry to yourself!


slocalgal

Sam,


I see your point.


My intention was to illustrate the potential basis of Mr. O’Connor’s decision. We are all influenced by our background and beliefs, though it might not be politically correct to say so.


I am not anti-Catholic or anti-Irish. In fact, I was raised in a wonderful Irish Catholic family myself and my great-aunts are nuns. I also support everyone’s right to their own beliefs and lifestyle. I hate bigotry and intolerance. It’s sad that we live in an age where simply stating someone’s background is perceived as unacceptable or bigoted.


Unfortunately, Mr. O’Connor has consistently been unable set aside his personal bias and that’s a problem. After 16-year old SLOHS student Tomas O’Sullivan committed suicide in February 2016, Mr. O’Connor released an awkward statement that Tomas was “released from his suffering” through his death. Mr. O’Connor failed to allow Transitions Mental Health to speak on campus, rejecting the notion that students struggle with mental health issues. Suicide is the #2 cause of death in the 15-24 year old demographic.


I believe Mr. OConnor is out of touch. I apologize for offending you, Sam. Really, I didn’t mean it that way but can see how my stating Mr. O’Connor’s background could be construed as offensive to some.


SamLouis

I find it interesting that you were raised Catholic yet you no longer practice the faith. Might that be a source of your bigotry? I honestly believe you should ponder your comment “I believe Mr. OConnor is out of touch” for a while.


“Out of touch” from what exactly? Ideas or ideals that you personally support? Have you ever considered that not allowing Transitions Mental Health on campus was likely made only with the support of the superintendent? That Transitions Mental Health is not automatically an appropriate organization with an appropriate message for teens?


L.A.RamsFan

“Homosexuals on the other hand are a protected species. All they have to do is run to an: administrator, dean, lawyer, judge and whine and they get action no matter the validity of their claims.”


Doesn’t that sound like a quote from a homophobic bigot? It does???


Well, SamLouis… That was taken from your post of 05/27/2016 of a CCN article titled “Gay Cal Poly student accuses Mike Winn of homophobia”


And what would disqualify Transitions Mental Health from being an “…appropriate organization with an appropriate message for teens?” Please answer that one for me. I’m thinking that like most of SLO’s residents that prefer burying their heads in the sands of ignorance you would, by choice, keep our children stuck in your ignorance. I cannot think of a more appropriate organization to visit our campus! Not to diagnose but rather to educate our young transitioning into adulthood about our country’s mental health status coming from those who are in the know! Or maybe the thought of some form of empathy forming in our children’s minds about the mentally ill inflames another part of the bigoted mind? I don’t know…


SamLouis

If the current SLOHS principal was a sexist lesbian atheist who made the exact same decision, I seriously doubt she would be getting shelled by the haters as the actual principal is being shelled.


L.A.RamsFan

Maybe you’re right, but I doubt it. I don’t feel any hate here either; just some folks voicing their disappointment over a something they perceive as a bad decision. And whether you want to admit it or not our religious background, or lack thereof, has a lot to do with each individuals moral compass. Besides, calling each one of us “haters”, rather than just detractors, is a way of trying to silence our opinion; and in my experience the one group of people who try and do that more than any other? The religious zealots and their churches!


byefelicia

Seems to be the theme for principle O’Connor… Not giving the students what they deserve. Earlier this year as he sewed his oats playing girls soccer coach/principle, he refused to give a varsity soccer girl her Varsity Letter. He bounced around this poor girl (among a few others) from JV to Varsity as he saw fit. This particular girl scored the ONLY goal in the regional “VARSITY” game, but he decided she didn’t deserve a letter. Hats off to you principle OConnor. Way to go again.


mej

Hmmmm he ‘volunteered to be the girls coach….Hmmmm he finds CeCe’s film too provocative to watch….. Hmmmm


achillesheal

He also coached the girls soccer team to the most successful season in the history of San Luis high. I thought that was worth mentioning if you go after him as a coach.


Leaders make tough and sometimes unpopular decisions. I disagree with this one, but I would not indict his character because of it. He was the principal who opened up the slo high prom without hesitation, to the boy who was denied the prom at AG.


SamLouis

There’s some truly ugly hatred for this O’Connor guy.


Anti-Catholic bigotry is one of the few prejudices that’s still quite PC in the US so that’s a given if they want to attack him.


Did he happen to replace a female soccer coach perchance? Is that what the herd of cows is upset about?


The clip wasn’t a BFD. Get over it. Maybe not getting over on the principal was a good life lesson for CC.


L.A.RamsFan

Anti-Catholic bigotry? You can let that escape your mouth while the “…Roman Catholic Church is bigoted, misogynistic, controlling, judgmental, outdated and Pharisaical” – Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Sept 22, 2015


And what do some of your most devout members have to say?


When asked if they had passed on their faith to their children, one wrote: “We are ashamed of our faith – so misogynistic, controlling, self-opinionated.”


Another added: “As children grow into young adults they do not identify with an organization that holds outdated and misogynist views.”


“They live their lives according to what they think is right … How can it be right for people living with HIV/Aids not to use condoms?”


“How can it be right for divorced and remarried people to be refused Communion? How can the Catholic Church’s view on the evil of homosexual, cohabitation be right?”


From bigotry bigotry grows, just ask the Roman Catholic Church….


Rambunctious

Very talented young women emphases on young…something tells me when she is 40 years old she will be thankful that the principal took the action he has.


Russ J

Without knowing anything about her but the narrative of this video, I would say she has struggled through a dark high school experience sprinkled with periods of joy and pleasure. I guess that’s some what common and she does a great artistic job communicating her experience. The bathing suit scenes sort of detract from the message and that’s probably what killed it for old school Leslie. Cheer up Cora fans – this exposure on Cal Coast is likely to reach many more peoples not associated with San Luis High (like crusty ole me.) I’m sure the entire student body has been able to watch this video and absorb your very unique message that can only benefit those who may struggle like you have.


horse_soldier

Damn sure way to guarantee that just about every SLO High student sees this film is to ban it.


SamLouis

And there’s nothing wrong with that. It might even be a positive thing in many cases. That still doesn’t mean that it’s appropriate material for the SLO Senior Showcase


laftch

Just another example of the machine suppressing individuality. She nailed it when she said true freedom is not caring what anyone else thinks. Certainly can’t have that in the new world order. Shine on you crazy diamond.


dogeatdog

What time is this event at the PAC, I may show holding a sign in support of her film,

ANYONE else want to publically view your opinion?


horse_soldier

Second paragraph states June 9 @ 6pm