DUBLIN – Today, the ACLU of Ohio sent a letter to Dublin Jerome High School officials demanding that they stop censoring a group of students who want to wear t-shirts supporting marriage for same-sex couples. The letter to Dublin High School was sent on the same day as the ACLU of Eastern Missouri filed a lawsuit in federal court against a high school that twice punished a student for wearing t-shirts expressing her support for gay rights.
Two weeks ago, school officials told a student at Dublin Jerome High School to take off a t-shirt that read “I support gay marriage” after administrators claimed that a student had been offended by it. The next day, about 20 students protested the action by coming to school in similar t-shirts. They were required to change their t-shirts, turn them inside-out, or go home.
At Dublin High, administrators routinely allowed students to wear shirts expressing other messages, including endorsements of the Bush and Kerry presidential campaigns, students’ views on abortion, and religious messages.
“Our principal says that the shirts are disruptive, but the truth is that the only thing that’s been disruptive has been the way the school has reacted to them and the outrage that has created among the student body,” said 16-year-old Zach Hust, one of the Dublin students who was told to change shirts.
“The school officials’ claim that the students’ speech is disruptive is baseless,” said Jeff Gamso, legal director at the ACLU of Ohio. “What is going on here is an illegal infringement on the free speech rights of students.”
In January, results of a national survey by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation of more than 100,000 high school students was released showing that nearly three-fourths of high school students either don’t care or don’t know how they feel about the First Amendment, or admit they take it for granted.