School officials reacted as youth throughout the nation donned pro-life T-shirts on Tuesday to voice their support for the sanctity of life, causing some students to claim that their rights to free speech were violated.
In Knoxville, TN, a fifth-grader was barred from wearing a T-shirt bearing the message Abortion Kills Kids with a picture of a fetus.
Principal Emily Lenn of A.L. Lotts Elementary School told the girls mother, Debbie Williams, that the graphic picture of the fetus was inappropriate. Lenn stated that a less graphic design would be allowed at the school.
At Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, IA, T-shirts of a similar design caused quite a stir. Sisters Brittany and Tamera Chandler were told by Principal Anita Micich to cover their T-shirts or change, because school officials feared the reactions of other students.
The two sisters complied, but only because the school threatened them with suspension. Micich has since met with the Chandlers father, telling him that the sisters would be allowed to wear the shirts at school again, and that officials would talk to any students who react disruptively.
The T-shirts were part of the National Pro-Life T-shirt Day, during which 15,000 students participated to share pro-life messages. Organized by the American Life League, the event is in its third year. Participants have faced opposition from school officials each year, with threats of detention, suspension, or expulsion to students who wear the pro-life shirts on campus.
Director of American Life Leagues Youth Outreach Erik Whittington commented on the reaction of the school officials, saying that students who react negatively to the T-shirts should be reprimanded, rather than students who wear the T-shirts. This year, the Thomas More Law Center offered their services to protect the free speech rights of students where suppression is suspected.
Commenting on the National Pro-Life T-shirt Day, Whittington said, This is a day when the youth can speak out against the holocaust of abortion, which has taken the lives of one-third of their generation."
American Life Leagues National Pro-Life T-shirt Day is one of the most important days of the year for pro-life youth activists. These young people can and do make a difference.