(Photo: WFLA.com video screenshot)
A Florida 5th grader was stripped of a ribbon he was given as an award for a speech he made about the history of people using religion to justify war, as school officials found the speech inappropriate.
"The concern was over the topic of mass murders," Patel Partnership School District Spokeswoman Tanya Arja told WFLA last week. "Because these are 4th and 5th graders."
The 5th grader was apparently given back the ribbon after his older brother arrived at the school to pick him up and then spoke with the assistant. Their mother, Rhonda Golob-Drake, later spent four hours on the phone discussing the situation with school and district officials.
Zachary Golob-Drake's speech, the full text of which is also available on WFLA, is titled "In the Name of Religion," and chronicles a number of religious wars throughout the centuries, including the Crusades, Genghis Khan's conquests, and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America.
"The world's major religions all have messages about coexisting. But oftentimes people have found a way to bend that rule; sometimes people even use religion as an excuse to take each other's lives," the student begins. "Religious differences have always sparked conflict, even leading to warfare and mass murder."
Golob-Drake ends his speech, however, by pointing out that the world's biggest religions do come together when it comes to the Golden Rule, which goes "Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you."
"This world would be a better place if everybody followed that rule," the 5th grader suggests.
The student was hoping to be represented in the regional 4-H Tropicana Public Speech Contest, and was set to deliver the speech to a number of classes at his school, but on Thursday was told by the assistant principal that his speech was inappropriate.
"She started talking to me about how she thought my speech wasn't appropriate for 4th and 5th graders and she thought that probably I would have to rewrite my speech, take the religion out or not compete," Golob-Drake said.
The speech contest was reportedly postponed until Monday, with 4th and 5th grade students requiring permission slips from parents about whether or not they will be allowed to hear the speeches.
Facebook users commenting on the article have mostly supported Golob-Drake's right to share his speech.
"This kid is brilliant. It was a very well thought-out and constructed speech. I suspect mom and dad had a hand in it somehow? Regardless, he speaks the truth," one user wrote.
"The boys constitutional rights are being taking away, he is only teaching history. I don't think half the kids would understand it anyway. He should not be given a ribbon and then have it taken away," added another. "Our school systems are failing our students, it is not the students failing our schools. Give him his ribbon for all his hard work."