ACLU Aids Student Against Ban on Anti-Gay Shirt

The American Civil Liberties Union, which supports same-sex marriage, is defending a Connecticut high school student who was ordered to remove his anti-gay T-shirt.

Sandra Staub, legal director for the Connecticut chapter of the ACLU, sent a letter to Dr. Joseph Monroe of Wolcott High School regarding Seth Groody, a junior whose shirt was considered to be in violation of school policy.

"The ACLU has fought hard for same-sex marriage and we couldn't agree with Seth less on that issue, but he is absolutely correct about his right to express his opinion," said Staub.

Groody's shirt, worn on Wolcott's observance of the "Day of Silence," had on the front a rainbow with a slash through it and on the back two stick figures, one male and one female.

"The school's actions in requiring Seth to remove his tee-shirt, absent evidence of material and substantial interference, or invasion of the rights of others, violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article First, Sections 4 and 5, of the Constitution of Connecticut," wrote Staub.

"…we respectfully request your written assurance that neither Seth Groody, nor other Wolcott High School students, will be forbidden hereafter to wear the tee-shirt at issue, or similar tee-shirts that likewise do not demean individuals on the basis of sexual orientation or other core characteristics."

Jeanne Leblanc, Communications and Education manager for the ACLU of Connecticut, told The Christian Post that "the Groody family contacted the ACLU of Connecticut."

Groody is only the most recent example of a student getting into trouble with school officials over a shirt that expressed an opinion on homosexuality.

Last month, an Ohio student who had worn a shirt with the statement "Jesus was not a Homophobe" that included the Christian fish symbol colored in with a rainbow won a legal victory against his school.

Maverick Couch received a court judgment through some negotiations with Wayne Local School District after school officials there had forced him to turn his shirt inside out and threatened him with suspension.

Last year, the Chicago-based Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Heidi Zamecnik of Neuqua Valley High School could wear a shirt that included the statement "Be Happy, Not Gay."

"A school that permits advocacy of the rights of homosexual students cannot be allowed to stifle criticism of homosexuality," read the Seventh Circuit's decision. "People in our society do not have a legal right to prevent criticism of their beliefs or their way of life."

Wolcott High has declined to give comment to either The Christian Post or other media sources about the letter from the ACLU or Groody.

"The impulse to suppress ideas that we find unpleasant is antithetical to freedom and democracy," said Staub.

"That's why the ACLU of Ohio stood up in 2006 for the rights of students to wear T-shirts supporting same-sex marriage and the ACLU of Connecticut must stand up in 2012 for the rights of students to express the opposite sentiment."