School that Banned Pro-Gay Shirt to Change Its Policy
Feb 18, 2016 09:25 AM EST
A school district in central California has recently decided to settle a free speech lawsuit sued by a student over a t-shirt he wore to school. The student, a high school junior, was allegedly sent home when he refused to change the t-shirt he wore that read "Nobody knows I'm a lesbian."
According to the settlement deal, the Manteca Unified School District will be adopting a new policy that will enable its students to wear statement clothing celebrating their own or their classmates' identities in culture. Al Jazeera reports that the deal approved on Tuesday night is the latest case involving a legal dispute over a message on a piece of clothing. Other cases of this nature involve school and college officials prohibiting messages such as these for the purpose of maintaining discipline amongst its students.
The incident happened in August where Taylor Victor was told by a couple of Sierra High School administrators that the t-shirt she was wearing violated the school's dress code by having an improper display of sexuality. The administrators claimed that the shirt could be disruptive and had the student called to the school's office. Victor was given the option to change her shirt or be sent home. Given that she had reviewed the district's dress code prior to wearing the shirt, Victor decided to be sent home as there weren't any rules that prohibited pro-gay messages.
After the incident, the 16-year-old and her mother decided to sue the administrators.
ACLU attorney Linnea Nelson criticized the school's decision as the law has already been clear on public schools censoring the personal beliefs of its students. Adding to this, Nelson shares that the message on Victor's shirt "expresses the most fundamental type of speech already protected by the First Amendment, the California Constitution and the California education code."
With the settlement, the school board has approved the required dress codes. The administrators also denied violating the student's rights to free speech. Together with the district, they deny any wrongdoing.