Liberty High School student Jesse Irey wore a tee shirt to high school which said “Queer + Straight = Equal” but a teacher and school official claimed that the shirt was offensive and forced him to go home.
Now Jesse and the American Civil Liberties Union are fighting back against what they say is illegal censorship by the school.
But interetingly in a statement, the Liberty School District says the word queer is “aligned with hate-drive remarks resulting in hostile physical reactions that are detrimental to a safe learning environment.” The statement goes on to say that the district “embraces and promotes acceptance and tolerance.”
Jesse has claimed that other students at the school were allowed to wear anti-gay shirts at school after the school’s ay-Straight Alliance wore shirts that read ‘Gay-Fine by Me.’
“Kids wore shirts like this that said ‘Straight – the only thing fine by me,’
“(School officials) didn’t ask those students to turn their shirts inside out,” said Kelly Smith, Irey’s mother. She says that since her son came out as bisexual, he has been harassed at school by other students and teachers”
Doug Bonney of the ACLU says that Irey’s shirt doesn’t rate as offensive, and he is now demanding that the school stop their censorship.
“Absolutely it’s a freedom of speech issue, there’s no doubt,” said Bonney. “High school students have the right to express themselves on t-shirts.”
The shirt came from a conference hosted by EQUAL, or Empowering Queer Activists and Leaders. EQUAL president Wick Thomas says that they are prepared to fight the school’s ban of their shirt.