When I was at UCLA, students were constantly bombarded by activists and evangelists on Bruin Walk. I remember only one. It was an anti-abortion organization that showed up with the most disturbing supersized posters I had ever seen: the explicit images of blotted-out babies. I can still see the fractured fetus photographed beside a thumb, implying the digit had snuffed it out.
The posters, which made a lot of kids uncomfortable, raised an important question about free speech on campus. UCLA, to its credit and many students’ horror, let the protesters remain.
A slightly different scenario is playing out now in Minnesota, where a 12-year-old boy filed suit against his school for allegedly harassing him because of the pro-life t-shirts he chose to wear.
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.