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Why this shirt was banned

Schools are obligated to provide a safe environment for all students. Nationwide, four out of five gay students report ongoing verbal, sexual or physical harassment at school. More than 30 percent report missing at least a day of school in the past month out of fear for their personal safety. Gay students drop out of school at a much higher rate (28 percent) compared to the national average (8 percent) for heterosexual students. When a student’s expressive activity perpetuates this harassment, the school is required to put a stop to it, including the banning of the T-shirt in Roseville.

Students’ right to free speech was decided by Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District and reconfirmed and refined by Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser, Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, and Phillips v. Anderson, County School District Five.

The above-referenced cases explain why The Day of Silence is permitted and the wearing of the “Homosexuality is a Sin” T-shirt is not. School officials must discipline students whose free speech disrupts school. If they can reasonably predict that expressive activity would materially and substantially interfere with school activities and discipline, they are required by law to stop it.



Susan Teague

Beverly, Mass.


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