Sixteen-year-old Taylor Victor got a lot of grief when she wore her "Nobody Knows I'm a Lesbian" t-shirt to school last August. Officials at her central California high school told her the garment was disruptive, disrespectful of religious values, and promoted sex. When they offered her the option to change her shirt and never wear it again, or go home, Victor took the latter option — and then sued her school.
Last week she finally got some resolution when the Manteca school district settled the lawsuit. Officials didn't admit wrongdoing, according to Mashable, but they did pay expenses for Victor's attorneys — none other than the American Civil Liberties Union — and instituted a new dress code and launched a training course for teachers and administrators on students' free speech rights.
Victor's ACLU lawyers argued that a 1969 Supreme Court case, which cemented students' free speech rights within school buildings, set the precedent for this lawsuit. In recent years, other students have encountered resistance with school officials over messages on their clothes, including a South Carolina student barred from wearing a "Nobody Knows I'm a Lesbian" shirt. Victor, though, says she was treated respectfully during her lawsuit against the Manteca school district, but it was important to her to see her case to fruition.
“I’ve had people tell me in other states that they heard about my story, so I hope that this reaches as many people as possible," she told Mashable. "Other kids — and it doesn’t have to do with just sexual orientation, it could be religious beliefs, political beliefs too — I hope they know that schools can’t censor them completely like that. Their First Amendment travels with them."