Patch's Poll: Should Schools Police Kids' T-Shirts?

The ACLU recently informed a Connecticut school that a student was within his rights to wear an anti-gay T-shirt during a day raising awareness of gay and lesbian bullying and harassment.


A school in Wolcott violated a student’s right to free expression when school officials asked him to remove a shirt that contained an anti-gay message, according to a statement released by the American Civil Liberties Union this week.

Seth Groody, a Wolcott High School junior, wore a T-shirt on April 20 that depicted a rainbow on the front — a well-known symbol of gay rights — with a slash over it. On the back of the shirt was a pair of male and female stick figures seen holding hands, as well as the phrase  “Excessive Speech Day," the ACLU said.

The ACLU said Groody wore the shirt on a designated Day of Silence, which is part of a national movement to raise awareness of bullying and harassment of gays and lesbians. The school’s decision to order Groody remove the shirt — which he did under protest — was a violation of his First Amendment rights, citing a recent similar case, the ACLU said.

The organization, which notified the school district via a letter, said the shirt was intended to express his dislike for gay marriage and his opposition to the designated Day of Silence. According to the Hartford Courant, the ACLU said it doesn't agree with Groody's message but said the student had a right to wear that shirt.

“It was a statement of opinion that school officials and other students might disagree with but that would not substantially interfere with the operation of the school or invade anyone's rights,” the ACLU said.

With so many issues coming up on a yearly basis about school apparel, we ask, should schools police the slogans on T-shirts that kids wear? Take our poll and add your thoughts in our comment section.

valerie lynch June 11, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Parents should police what their kids are wearing before they leave for school. If it's offensive towards others it should be left at home. If parents are buying this type of clothing meant to express their own personal opinions on the backs of their children, then they should parade them around on the weekends, not on school grounds.
MAC June 12, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Kudos to the ACLU on this one, which is admittedly a rare compliment coming from me. Yes, First Amendment rights should always prevail over this false notion of political correctness which so often quashes not only the First Amendment, but common sense! The liberal left and secular progressives have all too often cowed school officials into bending over backwards not to "offend" some group, such as Muslims, atheists, gays, Hispanics, etc.! Where is their like concern for not offending Christians and others, who find it extremely "offensive" to be forced to remain silent for a day, just to help the self-esteem of a very small minority group?!! (I am not against any school anti-bullying programs, etc. which are designed to prevent such for ANY reason, not simply "sexual orientation or identity.")
Lori Amann-Chetcuti June 19, 2012 at 11:50 AM
No one is "forced to remain silent." Day of Silence is a *voluntary* action by students both gay and straight to express their solidarity with those who have been bullied either because they are gay or because others THINK they are gay. Students can choose to participate or not. Students who participate are silent to make the point that it is extremely hard for gay students to get help because they fear complaining will draw more attention to their sexual orientation (they may not have told their parents.) And so, they suffer in silence. That is the point of the demonstration, which this high school junior seems to have missed. Drawing attention to the problem of anti-gay bullying does not diminish protection for students who are bullied for other reasons. Nevertheless, the ACLU is right on this one. The T-shirt made its point without advocating the bullying of gay students. Still, I think it's sad (but perhaps not surprising) that a high school junior would have so little empathy for a group of people who are bullied on a regular basis.
MAC June 19, 2012 at 05:52 PM
If indeed "students can choose to participate or not," that's one thing, BUT I suspect in many schools the pc thing is to be "silent," and that those who don't may be shunned by the 'popular' kids. In that case, the student with the t-shirt was 'courageously' expressing an alternate view--and standing up to the 'intimidation' to COMPLY, and against an assumption of agreement with the pc views of an activist minority. Those with same-sex "sexual orientation" constitute no more than 2 % of the general population. Obviously bullying in general is a much more pervasive problem, so if this "day of silence" is such a great idea, then why not make it an opportunity for students to "express their solidarity" with ALL victims of bullying, for any reason?!!


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