Morris gets noticed!

Some big organization just noticed our little school district!

Uh-oh. It’s the ACLU.

And it’s not because our schools did something good.


As part of their celebration of a Day of Silence (a student-led national event that brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools) students at Morris Area High school donned t-shirts with the slogan “Look Beyond”. The same day a group of anti-LGBT students wore shirts that said “Loud and Proud”, the dark blue shirts had an image of an American flag and a pickup truck on the front. Students who were a part of the Gay Straight Alliance efforts said that they were shouted at and harassed by the students wearing the Loud and Proud t-shirts, but school officials did nothing to stop the harassment that day.

Yeah, I heard about this, and it’s troubling — not just because some of the students were assholes, but because this was organized assholery. Somebody designed and ordered a bunch of those stupid t-shirts with a pickup truck and a flag — I guess those are internationally recognized symbols of American jerkiness — and distributed them to the students with a suggestion that they disrupt a day of silence.

But, although the school district did nothing the day of the disruption, surely they got their act together and eventually responded appropriately? You don’t know our school district.

Morris Area High School has banned t-shirts with two slogans — “Loud and Proud” and “Look Beyond” — after student demonstrations turned disruptive last Friday, April 15.

On Wednesday, Morris Area High School Principal Bill Kehoe announced the decision to ban the specific slogans on shirts or other clothing at school and school-sponsored activities.

“We will not tolerate demonstrations or any conduct by any student or groups of students that disrupts the school environment or puts the safety or well-being of students at risk,” Kehoe said in a statement read over the intercom at the end of the school day.

Morris Area Superintendent Rick Lahn said the district’s decision is designed to keep students safe.

They banned them both, of course. To keep the students “safe”, they silenced the peaceful, non-disruptive message as well as the asshole message. Which means, of course, that the assholes who distributed those t-shirts got exactly what they wanted out of it.

The ACLU is coming down hard.

This is not the solution. The t-shirts themselves are not the problem, the harassing of students who were a part of the Day of Silence is the problem.

Schools should be a safe space for all students to attend. Morris Area High School has a responsibility to address any bullying that occurred regardless of the clothing worn by the perpetrators. Instead they just chose to limit the free expression of both sides by outright banning the shirts. This won’t get rid of bullying.

Instead of banning the slogans and t-shirts the school should be focused on making the school a safe and welcoming environment for its LGBT students. This is not the first time the ACLU has heard that Morris High School is an unwelcoming climate for LGBT youth. The school should use this opportunity to talk to its students about bullying and harassment and figure out steps it can take to make it safer.

The ACLU of Minnesota sent a letter to the school district telling the school that they should lift the ban on the t-shirts and instead focus on the heart of the problem.

This is a common problem around here — every once in a while, the religious totalitarians bestir themselves and try to assert their mightiness by slapping down kids. Especially kids who are in some way slightly different.


  1. themadtapper says

    We will not tolerate demonstrations or any conduct by any student or groups of students that disrupts the school environment or puts the safety or well-being of students at risk

    And what, pray tell, did the LGBT supporters do that disrupted the school environment or put any student’s safety at risk? Oh yeah, they drew the attention of disrupters and verbally abusive bigots. Congratulations to Morris Area HS for discovering the concept of the heckler’s veto. Though maybe someone should remind the administration that you’re not supposed to give in to the hecklers…

  2. says

    But dealing with the actual problem of bigotry and harassment is hard. It’s much easier to just ban specific t-shirts. Then your ass is covered without actually having to do anything.

  3. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The problem is not with the T-shirts, but with any actions that go beyond the mere wearing of the T-shirt. Which means the school administration has to actively figure out who instigated all incidents, and not allow any bullshit like “he was going to hit me, so I hit him first”. That means the children of local religious nuts will be disciplined for their bullying. Which won’t go over well with some Trump (super bully) supporter type parents….

  4. Larry says

    Obviously, the two t-shirts are equally at fault. The loud and proud shirts made their wearers act like total jerkoffs in response to events that affected them not in the least while the look beyond wearers made the others act like total jerkoffs because reasons.

    See? They’re the same and must therefore suffer the same Solomonic-like decisions from the school administration.

  5. Artor says

    Can people outside of the Morris area get in on the lawsuit? I would like to sue for damages because of the very painful head-desking the MAHS districs caused.

  6. plainenglish says

    Christianity, particularly the form evident across America known as fundamentalist evangelicalism, is designed to harm people. It teaches hatred and exclusionary behavior and does the doublespeak, crying Love! Love! It says Jesus died for Love and then threatens us all with eternal damnation if we don’t agree that God had to kill his own kid for ME! It is a sick leftoever of the darkest times, the delusions and paranoia of the caves. Are we out of the caves yet, Morris?
    We are about to see so much more of this delusionary behavior as the Donald takes his throne.

  7. says

    Clear and obvious example of the Heckler’s Veto. It’s amazing how often high school administrators make the same mistake. Adults are worse than students–a fact of high school life every teacher knows.


  8. eggmoidal says

    HS administrator #1: Harassers – take off your tees and stop harassing and being so exclusive.
    HS administrator #2: Look Beyonders – take off your tees and stop being so peaceful, quiet and inclusive.
    HS administrator #3: See, both sides were at fault.
    Peanut gallery: Cower here often?

  9. James McCusker says

    We have this day of silence at our high school and have enjoyed years of support and very few, if not zero, disruptions. The person who oversees our silent day as well as our community-supported Gay-Straight Alliance club (GSA) is due some recognition for orchestrating such a success in bringing people together.

    Having said this, everyone is blaming the administrators for handling this wrong. What is being overlooked is that the job description of “school administrator” has evolved drastically and very very quickly. Administrators are currently experts in finding the “path of least resistance” through every single crisis and question. They are not able to nor expected to stand on either side. Their is no “right” there is no “wrong”. There is “you are paid to make this go away with as little attention and fanfare as possible”.

    You will never get a fair shake. The very worst thing you can be is “right”. Because then, you have an expectation of the outcome of things. They just want the issue to go away. They do not want it settled and certainly will never condemn one side and support another. The modern definition of administrator is “person who is hired to keep our district out of the headlines”.

  10. Rich Woods says

    The modern definition of administrator is “person who is hired to keep our district out of the headlines”.

    I’m glad that’s not working very well right now. Maybe it should not work more widely.