Ohio school district allows student to wear banned T-shirt for one dayTop Highlights, Around the Nation Thursday, April 12th, 2012
WAYNESVILLE, Ohio – Lambda Legal has filed suit against the Wayne Local School District, Ohio on behalf of a student who was threatened with suspension from school if he wore a T-shirt with the words “Jesus is not a homophobe.”
Last April, on GLSEN’s National Day of Silence, Maverick Couch wore a T-shirt to Waynesville High School in Waynesville, Ohio that featured a rainbow Ichthys or “sign of the fish” along with the words “Jesus is not a homophobe.” The school principal ordered Maverick to turn the T-shirt inside out and told him that if he wore it again he would be suspended from school.
Maverick researched his First Amendment Rights as a student and went back to school determined to wear his shirt to mark GLSEN’s 2012 National Day of Silence. On his own, Maverick repeatedly requested the right to wear the shirt and was told each time that he would be suspended if he wore the shirt. Maverick subsequently called Lambda Legal.
January 24, Lambda Legal sent an educational letter to the school reminding school officials that students are protected under the First Amendment. The School Board refused to change its position, arguing that Maverick’s T-shirt was “sexual” and “indecent.”
“I’ve been bullied and called names, I wanted to wear the T-shirt to encourage respect for all students, gay or straight,” Couch said in a statement released by his lawyers. “I wish my school would help me create an accepting environment for LGBT kids, not single me out for punishment.”
In a recent status conference with Judge Barrett of the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Ohio, the Wayne Local School District said that Maverick would be allowed to wear the T-shirt to school on the Day of Silence this month.
“We’re glad that Maverick is able to wear his shirt April 20,” said Christopher Clark, senior staff attorney for Lambda Legal. “However, a student’s First Amendment rights are not restricted to one day of the year – we will continue to fight until Maverick is allowed to express who he is on any day he chooses.”
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