A Tucson High Magnet School student is expected to tell state lawmakers next week that she was forced by school officials to listen to a pro-immigrant political speech.
Senior Mon-yee Fung,17, voluntarily attended an assembly where co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union Dolores Huerta spoke, but could not leave after Huerta said “Republicans hate Latinos.”
“I wanted to listen to what they had to say, but all they had to say was hate-speak,” said Fung, head of the school’s Teenage Republicans Club. “They’re saying that I don’t like Mexicans or that I don’t try to understand what they’re doing, but I am trying to understand. I think I should have had the right to get up and leave at any time.”
State Rep. Jonathan Paton, R-Tucson, wants Fung to tell her story to Fox News at 5 p.m. today.
“She was forced to listen to a political speech for over 40 minutes,” Paton said. “To me that’s a real problem because we shouldn’t have the schools as a forum for political speech. They should be a forum for education.”
“This is a terrific opportunity for young people to learn what the democratic process is about, the way that bills are passed,” Huerta said.
Huerta said her “Republicans hate Latinos” comment was based on the number of anti-immigration bills sponsored by Republicans.
“Large numbers of the Republican Party are anti-immigrant or anti-Latino,” she said. “I can justify that.”
Paton has demanded answers from Tucson Unified School District officials.
Tucson High Principal Abel Morado said he was unaware of the incident involving Fung.
“I will take the young lady’s word for it,” he said. “It may have been a supervision issue. We ask teachers to properly supervise their students during an assembly and sit with their class.”
However, he acknowledged that students who didn’t want to attend in the first place had nowhere to go.
Students were told they could go to the assembly or the library, but the library was locked because of miscommunication.
“I did learn after the fact that the library was closed,” Morado said. “It may have been that the librarian chose to go to the assembly. That’s my responsibility.”
Fung is worried that her appearance on national television and in front of state legislatorsApril 20 may cost her friends who think differently from her.
“(But) it’s worth it, because I want them to see that even though I am Republican, I’m still a real person and that I do care about the community,” she said.