A federal appeals court has ordered that an Illinois student be allowed to wear a T-shirt that says "Be Happy, Not Gay" to protest the annual Day of Silence in support of gay students.Good to know that not all speech is slaughtered on the alter of political correctness. If observance of the day of silence is protected speech it goes to follow that a counter-protest is likewise protected speech. But alas, logic is not something found in great quantity in public schools when it comes to speech rights.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, in Chicago, unanimously rejected arguments from the Indian Prairie school district in suburban Chicago that it should be able to bar a student from wearing the shirt on the school day after the Day of Silence because it would be derogatory and offensive to some students.
" 'Be Happy, Not Gay' is only tepidly negative; 'derogatory' or 'demeaning' seems too strong a characterization," U.S. Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner said in the opinion for the court in Nuxoll v. Indian Prairie School District No. 204. "As one would expect in a school the size of Neuqua Valley High School, there have been incidents of harassment of homosexual students. But it is highly speculative that allowing the plaintiff to wear a T-shirt that says 'Be Happy, Not Gay' would have even a slight tendency to provoke such incidents, or for that matter to poison the educational atmosphere."
"Speculation that it might is, under the ruling precedents, and on the scanty record compiled thus far in the litigation, too thin a reed on which to hang a prohibition of the exercise of a student’s free speech," the judge added.
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
From The School Law Blog: