The taxpayer- sponsored sex conference at SUNY-New Paltz is instructive for the light it sheds on the issues of public education and free speech.
The first amendment protects the rights of private citizens to express ideas without fear of being stopped by government-initiated coercion. Public education, on the other hand, uses the threat of government-initiated coercion (i.e., taxation) to confiscate money from private citizens in order to promote ideas that they may not agree with, indeed, ideas that they may well consider to be false and vicious. Thus, contrary to the claims of New Paltz president Roger Bowen, the dissemination of ideas in publicly funded schools is not only not protected by the First Amendment but is an indirect violation of the first amendment rights of the taxpayers.
For example, because of this situation, a person such as myself, who actively works to promote the political ideas of John Locke, Thomas Jefferson and Ayn Rand, is forced to also spend a portion of each day working to promote the political ideas of Karl Marx and his intellectual heirs. This is one reason among many why education, as well as all other fields dealing with the dissemination of ideas, should be and must be made private.