On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars

Ranchero Elementary School allowed 10-year-old Calise Jontz to make her heart-felt speech against abortion.

To an auditorium cleared of students.

“Did you know that from the moment of conception, every distinctive characteristic of this new human being is programmed into this single initial cell?” asked Calise Jontz, a fifth grader during the May 6 Annual Zone Public Speaking Competition for grade schoolers in Falklands, British Columbia.

Here is Calise, rehearsing her speech at home:

“Young, bright-eyed and articulate, 10-year-old Calise lives with her parents and seven siblings on a cattle ranch in rural British Columbia,” writes Rebecca Millette for LifeSiteNews. “An avid Justin Bieber fan, she also loves horses, reading, singing and dancing. Most recently, she has become a pro-life advocate.”

In her speech, she declares: “Today I will be speaking to you about abortion. Is this a controversial issue? Yes, but like all controversial issues, it requires urgent attention and education.”

She first made her speech as part of a school contest. When Calise first delivered it, teachers and staff “didn’t seem to be bothered by this topic,” says Calise’s mom, Yolanda Jontz, “although the principal did request to hear her speech initially, I guess to make sure it was appropriate for elementary school aged children.”

All that changed when Calise went to the regional speech competition at a nearby host school, where Jontz says her daughter encountered what she called “intimidated censorship,” reports Millette.

Calise deliberately omitted graphic details about abortion and did not describe partial birth abortions. Instead, she stuck to the facts in a manner appropriate for a young audience of her peers.

“Nevertheless, upon arriving at the host school for the speech competition,” reports Millette, “Yolanda and her daughter found the gymnasium nearly empty, where Yolanda says usually the entire school, as well as competitors and parents, would attend. A handful of competitors, parents, and the judges were present for Calise’s speech, but only after her speech, as well as few others, did both younger and older students come.”

The child’s mother says that Calise’s speech was singled out and boycotted.

Principal Denise Brown says no letter about the speech was sent out warning anybody about the speech. However, she declined to explain why the gym was almost empty — and directed allquestions to Wendy Woodhurst, School District Director of Instruction.

Woodhurst refused to comment.

Calise’s mother says at least one parent that she knows of received a warning letter about the abortion speech.

No mention was made of other controversial topics.

“We weren’t informed that one speech was going to be about dolphin slaughter, or that another was about how great Lady Gaga is. This seemed unfair,” says Calise’s mother.

After her speech, an unidentified man, with tears in his eyes, commended Calise for her speech and her bravery.

Another student’s father, formerly a trustee with the school board, also praised Calise and expressed concern about the negative attention surrounding her speech. He said he might not agree with everything Calise presented, but he would never have censored her topic.

The speech, he added, had sparked good discussion with his own daughters.

In the speech Calise asked: “Is the fetus human? And does it deserve protection?” concluding, “The answer to both is yes.”

“So what is abortion, you ask?” concluded the 10-year-old. “Abortion isn’t just ending a pregnancy or eliminating a piece of tissue. No, abortion is killing an unborn child and hurting a mother.”