This story has been updated.

Rick Santorum’s views on gay marriage are nothing new. In fact, the former senator and presidential candidate has never been a fan of same-sex nuptials, a stance he recently drove home during an interview with the Des Moines Register. While his comments about the GOP and traditional marriage made headlines after that article published, Santorum is, again, capturing some attention after being turned away this week from delivering a speech at a public high school.

According to reports, the politician was slated to speak at Grosse Pointe South High School in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, on April 24, however, after scheduling the event, the school decided to cancel Santorum’s planned speech on leadership.

But the story doesn’t end there. Following furor, the district, again reversed course and will now, once again, allow the politician to address the student body.

Grosse Pointe South High School Cancels Rick Santorum Speech Over His Gay Marriage Stance

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum. (Photo Credit: AP/Eric Gay)

Breitbart originally reported that the decision to cancel the event was rooted in the former presidential candidate’s views on same-sex marriage. If this is true, though, one wonders how Santorum was selected and scheduled to speak at the school in the first place, especially noting that this is an issue has has been vocal about for quite some time. Some key details seem to shed light on how these decisions were made.

Let’s start at the beginning. The appearance was apparently first organized by the school’s Young Americans for Freedom group, which is a chapter associated with Young America’s Foundation, a conservative youth organization.

“The Freedom chapter came to us and wanted to see if Senator Santorum could come to the high school and speak to the students,” YAF Vice President Patrick Coyle told Breitbart. “Weeks ago, I participated in a call with the school principal, Dr. Matt Outlaw, and the chapter chairman, Langston Bowens. During the call, Outlaw signed off on the event.”

However, it seems something changed in the weeks that followed. Teachers allegedly spoke out against the Santorum appearance, sending videos of his past comments about gay marriage to district officials.

Then, Superintendent Dr. Thomas Harwood cracked down on the event, allegedly telling Coyle that he believes the politician’s views are extreme (he apparently also noted that he has a gay brother, something that has caused some to accuse him of a personal bias); the event was subsequently cancelled.

Grosse Pointe South High School Cancels Rick Santorum Speech Over His Gay Marriage Stance

Photo Credit: AP

Coyle noted that he tried to explain that Santorum would not be speaking about marriage and that, instead, he would be focusing on the more universal subject of leadership — but to no avail.

“Superintendent Harwood is injecting his own personal views into the situation and subsequently keeping students from hearing an American public policy leader discuss the importance of being a leader in their school and community,” Coyle told Breitbart after the incident unfolded.

Outlaw apparently sent the following letter to parents, addressing the controversy:

Hi everyone,

As a follow-up to the proposed assembly on April 24th, I wanted to thank the many staff members that shared additional information about the potential speaker. Based on this information and a few other items, I am announcing that we are declining the invitation to have Rick Santorum speak to our student body. Dr. Harwood is very supportive of this decision and we feel that we were mislead [sic] in a few areas with this. Peter Fox [the vice chairman of Young Americans for Freedom], in particular, was amazing through this process and showed such maturity today as we declined the invitation for the speech. I am so sorry for the angst that this may have caused, but please plan for a regular day of school on April 24th.

Dr. Matt Outlaw

Patch reports that the reason Santorum was dis-invited also related to a purported refusal to provide a speech transcript prior to his appearance. But it seems the aforementioned e-mail — the details of which were confirmed in the Patch report — corroborates that Santorum’s opinions were truly at the heart of the matter.

According to this additional news report, a district representative gave these additional reasons for the speech cancellation:

  • Santorum’s speaking engagement history, which does not include a school across the country
  • Previous speakers, such as Martin Luther King Jr., spoke after school hours
  • School-day activities should remain neutral given the district is public and such a speaker is not neutral

Naturally, the cancellation has some wondering if Santorum’s free-speech (and the free speech of students who wanted him to attend) is being impeded. Also, critics are questioning if it is appropriate for teachers’ political views to be coloring who can and cannot speak at the public school.

If Santorum was planning to focus solely on leadership, as stated, then some parents are clearly wondering why he should be prevented from having a presence at the school. Then again, others likely feared that he would be partisan in nature, something that officials likely wanted to avoid.

Later, Santorum responded to the controversy, writing:

“It’s a sad day when liberal educators are allowed to influence young minds – extending free speech rights only to those who share their liberal views.  I support traditional marriage; I believe marriage should be between one man and one woman.  I’m not sure what the administrators in the Grosse Pointe Public School System are afraid of, but these students deserve the respect to form their own opinion on this important issue.

“Furthermore, anyone who has ever seen me speak knows I rarely use prepared text.  In the case of Grosse Pointe High School – I was never asked for a copy of a speech, nor did I send one.  This has nothing to do with the content of a speech, but rather the context of my convictions.”

TheBlaze, among other outlets, reported on the incident and, following the coverage, the school district apparently reversed course, again. YAF put out a statement today discussing the change-of-heart, writing:

After pressure from students, parents, and local community leaders, the Grosse Pointe Public School System has decided to reverse their decision and allow Senator Rick Santorum to speak to the students of Grosse Pointe South High School.

“We are pleased that the school district has reversed their decision. Senator Santorum is a two-term United States Senator, someone who ran for President of the United States, and remains a driving force in the public policy realm. It would be a great disservice to the students to keep them from hearing him,” Young America’s Foundation Vice President Patrick X. Coyle said.

So, it seems it’s settled. Students and teachers, alike, will see Santorum speak after all on April 24.

(H/T: Breitbart)

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