Breaking: School allows anti-gay T-shirt after backlash. Despite widening pressure from lesbian and gay rights advocates, a Connecticut high school had a change of heart. After American Civil Liberties Union (or ACLU) intervened over free speech concerns, officials say a student is allowed to wear a T-shirt, despite its anti-homosexual message.
According to an follow up report from CBS News on Feb. 26, Wolcott High School now allows student Seth Groody to wear an anti-gay T-shirt, despite its controversial message.
While the ACLU disagrees with the student’s stance on same-sex marriage and the LGBT community, it supports his right to free speech.
“The First Amendment was written to protect unpopular speech, which is naturally the kind of speech that will always need protection. The ACLU has fought hard for same-sex marriage and we couldn’t agree with Seth less on that issue, but he is absolutely correct about his right to express his opinion,” said Sandra Staub, legal director of the ACLU of Connecticut.
The matter began back in April of last year when Groody wore an anti-gay T-shirt at his high school during a “Day of Silence.”
Ironically, the movement was geared towards promoting awareness about harassment and bullying of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.
Many called the shirt offensive as it bore an image on one side of male and female stick figures holding hands just above the legend, “Excessive Speech Day.” On the other side is an image of a rainbow with a slash through it.
Immediately, officials said the school does not allow anti-gay T-shirt messages and ordered the student to remove the controversial clothing.
Next, the ACLU stepped in and threatened to sue the school district, citing it was a violation of Groody’s rights to free speech and expression.
Obviously, issues like these are at the forefront of the U.S. Constitution regarding inherent rights given to all Americans. Lately, many have used the First Amendment in order to promote their agendas despite the clamor from the public when messages skate along a thin line.
Issues over same-sex unions and the LGBT community, while still subjects of division along political, moral and cultural lines, have edged towards tolerance. In other words, it is rapidly becoming socially acceptable to “come out” and celebrate one’s sexuality. Even the Republican Party, known for its conservative history, have broken ranks and is speaking in favor of gay marriage.
So, the school allows anti-gay T-shirt messages despite its desire to stamp out bias and bullying towards gays and lesbians. Will it now create situations that prompt students to protest or boycott schools over similar issues of free expression? Where is the line drawn in the sand over who has the right to protest, where and when?