A Christian legal group is suing a middle school in Hutchinson, Minn., in federal court over the right of a 12-year-old boy to wear pro-life t-shirts in school.
The boy, referenced in the lawsuit only as "K. B.," was reportedly and repeatedly harassed, ostracized, publicly ridiculed, and threatened with disciplinary action by school officials because he wore t-shirts produced by the American Life League as part of their anti-abortion awareness campaign.
The t-shirts displayed images of unborn babies accompanied with such messages as, "Abortion: Growing, Growing, Gone," "What part of abortion don't you understand?" and "Never Known – Not Forgotten" alongside "47,000,000 babies aborted 1973-2008" printed on the back.
Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), said that the case was a clear issue of viewpoint discrimination. Hutchinson Middle School officials were clearly in the wrong, he said.
"This courageous young Christian was ridiculed and threatened by teachers for expressing his deeply held beliefs. These school officials clearly violated the U. S. Constitution and the school's own written Dress Policy which specifically states it is not intended to abridge the rights of students to express political or religious messages," he explained in a statement.
Although the school lists as its policy that students with "inappropriate" clothing deemed disruptive to "the educational process" may be sent home, TMLC attorney Brandon Bolling noted that the young student was never asked to do this.
"The Supreme Court has held it permissible for public schools to limit student speech only when there is an actual and substantial disruption of school activity," he said.
"That is not the case here. The only people who took issue with the pro-life t-shirts were the school's employees – in fact, if any one caused any disruption, it was the school's employees, by their constant public harassment of our client because they disagreed with his pro-life message," he added.
The boy's mother told the local St. Paul Pioneer Press that she hopes the case will help rectify the unjust treatment of her son.
"My son kept getting singled out," she said. "He should be able to wear those shirts at school, and they decided that he can't. It's not right," she said.
"He knows [abortion] is the termination of life. He knows that it's wrong," she added. "Even if he's the only person at the school who believes that, he should still be able to wear that shirt under the Constitution, and they've taken that away from him."