Here’s another school that clearly doesn’t get the concept of the First Amendment at all. A high school principal in Waynesville, Ohio is forbidding a student to wear a t-shirt in support of the Day of Silence and against homophobia.
A Waynesville High School student sued in federal court Tuesday after school officials refused to let him wear a T-shirt with the slogan “Jesus Is Not A Homophobe.”
Maverick Couch wants to wear the shirt in his Warren County school on April 20 to show support for the Day of Silence, a national event that draws attention to the silencing of gay and lesbian students through bullying…
Couch, 17, said he tried to wear the shirt last spring for the Day of Silence and on several other occasions, but school Principal Randy Gebhardt repeatedly rejected his request.
Couch said he was told the shirt was not permitted because it was “indecent and sexual in nature.”
And the school has no idea what the law requires:
Gebhardt could not be reached Tuesday, but the school district’s superintendent, Pat Dubbs, said he believes Gebhardt considered the shirt a distraction and told Couch to turn it inside out when he wore it to school last year. He said the principal has done that on other occasions when students show up wearing potentially distracting or provocative shirts to school.
Sorry, that is not the legal standard. You can prevent kids from wearing t-shirts that are disruptive of the school’s ability to function; you can’t prevent it merely because you consider the message to be “distracting” or “provocative.”
This is very similar to the Harper v Poway case, where a student was forbidden from wearing an anti-gay t-shirt in response to the Day of Silence. Both kids have the right to express their opinion under the First Amendment. This year’s Day of Silence is on April 20.