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

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.

Doreen Boudreau Hausler June 19, 2012 at 01:12 AM
Sadly, the student was within his rights to wear the shirt, even though I would personally find it quite offensive. In reality, the mere act of wearing the shirt isn't actually hurting anyone. I would hope that in this day and age, people would be more tolerant of others, especially young people. But, that's a bigger issue that needs to be addressed. The question is, where do we as a society draw the line as to what is offensive? And, how do we move forward? Several years ago, my son attended a school that specifically required it's students not to wear "colors" (as in gang related clothing) and/or anything depicting violence. Makes sense. A friend of my son wore a t-shirt of a heavy metal band...which I would find slightly disturbing in all honesty...it had graphic, inappropriate images depicted on it. This child was sent to change. Meanwhile, another child wore a shirt that had an image of a large gun on it, with a phrase that mentioned something along the lines (worded, supposedly in a vein of "humor") of shooting people. Somehow, this particular shirt was allowed for the entire school day. Offensive attire, like many other issues, is very subjective. It should be cut and dry, if everyone was sensitive and considerate of others. It's not. People are not, currently considerate enough. This pains me. And, the sensitivity begins at home. As a society, we have so much work to do.
Jackie Sargent June 19, 2012 at 12:05 PM
I think if the shirt depicts prejudice of any kind, it should not be allowed. Would they allow a shirt with a picture of a white person or black person with a circle and line through it? An Anti-Gay shirt is the same thing in my opinion.
Flowers June 19, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Many people find the gay lifestyle to be offensive and immoral. They have a right to express that opinion. Wearing shirts and logo laden clothing to school is distracting to the education process and should not be allowed. This includes "juicy" "red sox" "yankee" and "sponge bob" gear. I hope our new dress code addresses this.
Lou June 19, 2012 at 01:51 PM
I think the question we should be asking is what parent would let their kid go to school with these types of shirts on?
MAC June 19, 2012 at 07:17 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.")

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