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Tennessee School Sued for Banning Pro-LGBT Shirt ​

Tennessee School Sued for Banning Pro-LGBT Shirt ​


A high school senior was told clothing with messages of support for LGBT people violates the school dress code. 

The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee is suing school officials in Giles County on behalf of a high school senior punished for wearing a shirt with a pro-LGBT message, reports The Tennessean.

On the first day of school, Rebecca Young wore a T-shirt (pictured above) that read, "Some People Are Gay, Get Over It."

Richland High School principal Micah Landers publicly reprimanded Young for wearing the T-shirt, according to the lawsuit. The ACLU claims Landers told Young she could not wear the T-shirt to school because it made her a target for bullying and provoked other students.

The lawsuit filed Monday names Landers, the superintendent, and the Giles County school board. Young's attorney says students' free speech rights were violated.

"Our goal in this case is to ensure that students are not censored for expressing their support for the equal treatment and acceptance of LGBT students," said ACLU of Tennessee director Hedy Weinberg, according to The Tennessean.

"Wearing the shirt was a way to express my support for gay people and for treating them with respect," said Young in a statement. "The censorship I experienced clearly shows why I felt the need to use my voice this way in the first place."

The lawsuit says superintendent Philip Wright told Young's mother in a phone call that any clothing expressing support for LGBT people, including a rainbow symbol, violated the school's dress code.

The dress code states students cannot wear clothing or accessories that have slogans about or suggestive of "drugs, alcohol, sex, obscenities or prove to be a disturbing influence," The Tennessean reports.

Young's lawsuit claims she created no disturbance by wearing her shirt.

"We know from a series of cases that as long as that the shirt is not obscene or doesn't constitute a threat, then the student's speech or expression cannot be censored," Weinberg told the paper.

In a letter to the superintendent, the ACLU cited a landmark Supreme Court case from 1969, which upheld the rights of Iowa high school students to wear black armbands to protest the Vietnam War, and a 2008 case, which found a school board in Florida had violated students' free speech rights by forbidding them to wear garments with rainbows, pink triangles, and pro-gay slogans.

Click here to read Young's lawsuit in full.

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