An Ohio student's mother is suing his high school over administrators asking him to remove a T-shirt that reads "Jesus is Not a Homophobe" during a "Day of Silence" observance.
The mother of Maverick Couch, 16, filed the suit against the Wayne Local Schools in United States District Court in Cincinnati. Couch is being represented by Lambda Legal, a nonprofit law firm that focuses on LGBT issues.
Wayne Local School District Superintendent Patrick Dubbs and Wayne Local Schools are in discussions with the family. In comments to media, Dubbs has questioned the true controversy of the matter.
"It needs to be stated this happened a year ago and it has not been an ongoing issue," said Dubbs in an interview with ABCNews.com.
"We received one letter that came out of the clear blue months ago that asked us to please consider letting him wear this shirt that happened a year ago. We discussed it [in] a board meeting and our attorney crafted a letter in response. The next notice we got was press calls about the lawsuit."
The controversy stems from an incident last year. At a "Day of Silence" observance at Waynesville High School, Couch decided to wear a white T-shirt with the words "Jesus is Not a Homophobe" and a picture of the Ichthys (or Jesus fish) symbol colored in with a rainbow design.
According to Couch, the principal demanded that he turn the shirt inside out and that if he wore it again, he would be suspended. School officials argued that the shirt was "sexual" and "indecent," which is why they told him to quit wearing it.
"On April 3rd, Lambda Legal filed suit against Wayne Local School District on behalf of Maverick Couch, asking the court to allow Maverick to wear his T-shirt on April 20th, GLSEN's National Day of Silence," said Lambda Legal in a statement.
"Maverick is standing up for his rights as well as for the rights of LGBTQ students around the country. He truly is a Maverick."
The school district is being represented by attorney William Deters II, who sent a letter to Lambda Legal arguing that the school had the right to "limiting clothing" slogans.
"It is the position of the Wayne Local School District that the message communicated by the student's T-shirt was sexual in nature and therefore indecent and inappropriate in a school setting," wrote Deters.
"Wayne Local School District Board of Education had the right to limit clothing with sexual slogans, especially in what was then a highly-charged atmosphere, in order to protect its students and enhance the educational environment."
Lambda Legal did not return comment by press time.
Correction: Thursday, April 5, 2012
An article on April 4, 2012 on the suit being brought before Wayne Local Schools incorrectly stated that Superintendent Patrick Dubbs intended to fight the suit in court. As of April 5th, Dubbs and Wayne Local Schools are still in discussions meant to resolve the issue out of court.