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School Backs Down After Girl Threatens to Sue Over T-Shirt

School Backs Down After Girl Threatens to Sue Over T-Shirt


A high school student in Birmingham, Ala., is free to wear a gay-supportive T-shirt after the Southern Poverty Law Center threatened to sue her school district because administrators found the shirt offensive.

Sara Couvillion's "Gay? Fine By Me" shirt landed her in trouble with school officials. The SPLC told a CBS News affiliate that she wore the shirt to school several times during the last school year. However, an official eventually told her to stop wearing the shirt because administrators feared for the 15-year-old student's safety, even though Couvillion said she never experienced or reported violence against her. After the SPLC threatened to sue for her right to wear the shirt, the school administrators backed down from their original position.

"At Hoover High School, we have a tradition and practice of respecting the rights of students to exercise all of their constitutional entitlements," Hoover High School principal Don Hulin said Wednesday in a statement. "We are fortunate to have a diversified student body and we work very diligently to encourage a culture of tolerance and understanding."

Hulin went on to cite the U.S. Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines, guaranteeing the freedom of expression for young people in schools unless it "disrupts the learning environment or disabuses the rights of others." He also said that the dress code must be enforced to facilitate a learning environment, but admitted that Couvillion's T-shirt did not cause a substantial disruption at school.

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