[Cincinnati] A Waynesville High School student sued in federal court Tuesday after school officials refused to let him wear a T-shirt with the slogan “Jesus Is Not A Homophobe.” Maverick Couch wants to wear the shirt in his Warren County school on April 20 to show support for the Day of Silence, a national event that draws attention to the silencing of gay and lesbian students through bullying. Couch’s lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, immediately became part of a decades-long fight over how to balance the First Amendment rights of students and the rights of school administrators to enforce rules and impose discipline. Couch, 17, said he tried to wear the shirt last spring for the Day of Silence and on several other occasions, but school Principal Randy Gebhardt repeatedly rejected his request. School officials could not be reached, but Couch said he was told the shirt was not permitted because it was “indecent and sexual in nature.” His attorney, Christopher Clark, said Couch tried for months to resolve the dispute without going to court, but school officials wouldn’t budge. Clark said administrators initially said the shirt was disruptive and later that it was too religious. He said they now claim it violates rules prohibiting clothing that is indecent or sexual in nature. Couch said he has been the victim of teasing and name-calling at school, but he said any bullying he’s experienced has never become physical. He said he wants to wear the shirt to show support for other gay students who do suffer from severe bullying.
I broke down a similar situation a couple of weeks ago in rather genius fashion, so it’s fair to say I’m a reliable pundit on gays and their First Amendment rights. In the end, I’m once again going to side with the administration on this one – but for a different reason. I don’t think the shirt is ‘indecent and sexual in nature’ at all. I also don’t see how this is supportive of other gay students who are taunted & beat up. Regardless, I don’t believe Maverick Couch (seriously?) should be allowed to wear this shirt at all – let alone in school. (more…)