Texas School Censors Pro-Gay T-Shirts

A group of students in a Dallas-area middle school were told they could not wear t-shirts that said “Gay O.K.” in support of a student who had recently come out as gay and was being bullied by some of his classmates. The school says it was trying to control possible disruptions.

At least two McKinney middle school students were sent home Wednesday, and several others were told to cover up their “Gay O.K.” message they wore emblazoned on their T-shirts.

The shirts were worn as silent support for a Faubion Middle School seventh grader who recently came out and, as a result, was bullied by other schoolmates…

“Being gay is OK. And it is OK to be open about it,” said classmate Anna Thompson, who was one of at least 15 Faubion Middle School students who wore the “Gay O.K.” shirts to school.

Thompson told NBC 5 she was approached by an administrator about the shirt almost as soon as she walked in the door Wednesday morning.

“[He] came up to me and said that he doesn’t believe this message is school appropriate,” Thompson said…

“We were doing perfectly fine until lunch,” said Sammy Heiman, a seventh grader who designed the shirts. “And then [the administration] called us all out, all the people wearing them, called us out of the cafeteria. And people started getting rowdy because they knew what was going on. They were making us take off the shirts.”

Now here’s what I find particularly interesting about this. If the t-shirts were anti-gay rather than pro-gay, all of the big Christian right legal groups would be screaming about persecution and lining up to represent those students to file a lawsuit. None will do so here. But the ACLU would gladly defend the students in both cases, as they did with the Tyler Harper case in Poway schools near San Diego a few years ago. The liberal legal group will defend the right to free expression whether they agree with it or not; the conservative legal groups care only about the rights of Christians.

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  • eric

    We were doing perfectly fine until lunch,” said Sammy Heiman, a seventh grader who designed the shirts. “And then [the administration] called us all out, all the people wearing them, called us out of the cafeteria. And people started getting rowdy because they knew what was going on. They were making us take off the shirts.”

    So, basically, the shirts themselves caused no disruption at all. The administration’s response to the shirts caused a school disruption.

  • Doc Bill

    Dress codes! Weapon of choice for EONS of school administration jack-booted fascists!

    When I was in high school back in the Pleistocene the admin outlawed miniskirts because they were “distractive.” True, but we liked it! Then when the granny gown fad came in a year later they banned granny gowns because they were “distractive.” True, but we liked it! Then when girls started wearing jeans and flannel shirts, well, you know what happened. For guys it was surfer shirts, plain colored shirts with a broad white band around the middle. Turns out we were promoting a “culture.” Who knew?

  • StevoR

    @ ^ Doc Bill : Who could ignore it and make it go away by pretending it wasn’t happening elsewhere?

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    This a clear case of the Moron’s Veto.

  • StevoR

    Eppur si muove.

  • http://festeringscabofrealityblogspot.com fifthdentist

    “The school says it was trying to control possible disruptions.”

    Yes, they must think of the students and prevent anything that could disrupt their bullying of people who are different. Otherwise the school would be interfering with their right of free speech.

    After typing that I am thinking this could, sadly, be the way that the school administration is viewing this issue.

  • colnago80

    I have one question, what did the school administrators do about the bullying that the out of the closet gay student was being subjected to? That seems a lot more serious then any disruption caused by the shirts.

  • scienceavenger

    Meh, nothing new to see here. In my hellschool days, they made kids take off their Madonna concert shirts because they had the word “virgin” on them. If its sexual, and/or potentially controversial, the school is going to react like this. They don’t care about justice, they want peace and quiet.

  • http://nwrickert.wordpress.com/ Neil Rickert

    The school says it was trying to control possible disruptions.

    It looks to me as if it was the students wearing the T-shirts who were trying to control disruptions.

  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    tinker v des moines, anyone? Anyone?

    Tinker?

    Tinker?

  • jaybee

    I recall two censored t-shirt incidents. In 7th grade, one girl wore a t-shirt with two pigs getting their corkscrew on with the text “Makin’ Bacon”. She had to turn it inside out. In high school, one of my fellow nerdy AP Physics classmates wore a t-shirt with a guy on a harley and the text “Ass, Gas, or Grass, nobody rides for free”. He had to flip it inside out.

    “Gay OK” probably wouldn’t have caused any issues, even back in 1980 where I went to school.

    One thing I want to point out about this story: it is easy to focus on the conservative Texan fuckwits, but I prefer to admire the 15 Texan junior high students who stood together to support their gay classmate.

  • busterggi

    “the conservative legal groups care only about the rights of Christians.”

    Because only Christians are human don’t you know.

  • Johnny Vector

    No, see you’ve got it all wrong. The school administrators wanted to avoid the disruption to their day that would happen when the parents of the bullies found out about this.

  • Artor

    Jaybee, I agree. It is heartening to see that the new generations are growing up with so much more tolerance & understanding than their parents. This was a bunch of teenagers in TEXAS!

  • bushrat

    Administrators are on the case as soon as Gay O.K. t-shirt show up, but nowhere to be seen when gay kid gets bullied…got it.

  • gadfly47

    @ Cryp Dyke, I had to look up Tinker v Des Moines in Wikipedia. Thanks for pointing this out. Looks like issues like this were settled a long time ago, but the authoritarians never seem to learn.

  • Zmidponk

    “[He] came up to me and said that he doesn’t believe this message is school appropriate,” Thompson said

    7th grade, that would make the student, what, 12-13? If that had been me, at that age, I would probably have had to ask him to specify exactly what was not appropriate – not out of any attempt to be clever, but through genuine befuddlement. I was brought up to think that people are different in all kinds of different ways, and that this is normal, for want of a better word, so the idea that being gay was NOT OK would have left me scratching my head. Just goes to show how different things can be in different places.

  • carpenterman

    I hope the parents of these students will get involved. Those kids were stepping up and showing support for a bullied classmate. Their parents should recognize just how admirable their children are, and support them in turn.

  • samgardner

    16…

    The bong hits for Jesus case always gives me a bit of pause before saying it’s “settled”.

  • Anna Elizabeth

    In my experience, the true function of teachers and administrators is to enforce conformity. At least, that seems to be why they not only tolerate but encourage bullying.

    So, these kids with the “Gay OK” t-shirts are “disrupting”, because they are daring to think.

    But, do these school officials consider what the kids are actually learning from all this?

  • postwaste

    Junior year I was sent to the office for wearing a Canadian flag t-shirt. My teacher insisted it was a drug reference.

  • dingojack

    Morse v. Frederick (Bong Hits 4 Jesus) stated that the 1st amendment doesn’t cover utterances that encourage illegal activities. I’m not absolutely sure, but I’m pretty sure being gay isn’t actually illegal, even beyond the pale in Texas…

    Dingo