Civil Liberties Union has requested that a Virginia high
school remove any mention of discipline from the record of a
student who was punished for wearing a T-shirt with a
lesbian symbol. Bethany Laccone, a 17-year-old senior,
was suspended December 10 when a teacher became
offended by a shirt she wore in class that featured two
overlapping female symbols.
principal and the teacher told Laccone that her shirt
violated the school's dress code, which bans "bawdy,
salacious, or sexually suggestive messages." In a
later meeting with Laccone's father, the assistant
principal said that the teacher is "very conservative"
and that she was so upset by the shirt that it
interfered with her ability to teach.
"When my teacher
told me she wanted me to turn my shirt inside out or
cover it up, I was confused, because I've worn that shirt to
school several times before and nobody ever said a
word about it," Laccone said in a statement. "I wear
that shirt because I want people to know that I'm
proud of being a lesbian and comfortable with who I am. And
I have the same constitutional right to free speech as
any other student."
She attends a
different school full-time but goes to I.C. Norcom High
each morning for a hotel management class, according to the
ACLU. The group is urging the school to remove her
suspension from her record and to pledge not to
illegally censor students.
"A public school
teacher's job is to serve the needs of all the
students who go to that school," said Christine Sun,
a staff attorney with the ACLU's national
Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project. "If a
teacher can't deal with the fact that there are gay
students in her classroom, that doesn't mean
she gets to violate that student's First
Amendment rights." (The Advocate)