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.
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