Scroll To Top

Missouri school district to lift gay T-shirt ban

Missouri school district to lift gay T-shirt ban

A southwest Missouri school district that banned T-shirts with gay-friendly messages says it is prepared to change its policy. The Webb City R-7 school district explained its intentions in a motion its lawyers filed in U.S. district court in Kansas City. In the motion, filed Thursday, the district asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by high school student Lastaysha Myers against the school's principal and assistant principal and the district's superintendent. "Barring any further disruptions, the district intends to allow the tempers to calm, and the controversy to self-dissolve, thereby ending the restrictions on T-shirts such as plaintiff's with the close of the 2004-2005 school year," the motion said. Myers, 16, filed the lawsuit after being told that homemade T-shirts she wore to school nearly five months ago were disruptive and thus breached the dress code. Citing her constitutional rights to self-expression, the American Civil Liberties Union backed Myers. Myers, who is heterosexual, is seeking an injunction that would let her wear shirts such as one that read, "I have a gay friend and I'm proud of him." Myers and nearly a dozen other students wore shirts with gay-friendly messages in November to salute Brad Mathewson, a former classmate who also sued the district for barring him from wearing T-shirts with such phrases as "I'm gay and I'm proud." Mathewson withdrew his lawsuit after dropping out of school in December. School officials have said the shirts were disruptive because they were worn the day after protesters showing support of and opposition to Mathewson gathered outside the high school. "The whole basis for our defense has been that it was not about the message but about the disruption," Tom Mickes, attorney for the school district, said. School officials say the T-shirts would no longer be considered a disruption. "Next year we start afresh," district superintendent Ron Lankford said. "We would be pretty hard-pressed to say you can't wear a T-shirt that is tied to a disruption that occurred a year ago November." But Chris Hampton, an ACLU spokeswoman, said the ban never should have been imposed. "I don't think schools get to put on the calendar when the Constitution applies," she said. "Ultimately, we want a guarantee that Webb City High School is going to honor students' constitutional rights." (AP)

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Outtraveler Staff