Sometimes promoting the First Amendment makes for strange bedfellows. Take for instance the ACLU of Connecticut defending a student whose high school banned him from wearing a t-shirt opposing same-sex marriage. The shirt displayed a rainbow surrounded by a red circle with a line through it.
Here’s an excerpt from the ACLU’s press release:
We are writing on behalf of Wolcott High School junior Seth Groody and his parents. He states that Wolcott High School recently sponsored a “Day of Silence,” designed, in his understanding, to promote tolerance for alternative lifestyles, including homosexuality. He wore to school that day a tee-shirt that depicted, on one side, a rainbow — the commonly-recognized symbol of gay rights — with a slash through it and, on the other, a male and female stick figure, holding hands, above the legend, “Excessive Speech Day.” His purpose in wearing the tee-shirt was to express his dislike for gay marriage and his opposition to the perceived message that was promulgated by the school. He was ordered to remove the shirt, and, under protest, he did so.
To the best of Seth’s knowledge and belief, Wolcott High School has no rule or policy that prohibits the wearing of expressive attire. His wearing of the shirt did not “materially or substantially interfere with … the operations of the school,” or cause “invasion of the rights of others,” as these terms have been defined in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503 (1969), and its numerous progeny.
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.
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