This story deserves a mention for a few reasons:
It shows the ACLU working with the Alliance Defense Fund (a Christian group). You don’t see them on the same side of many issues.
It’s an example of the ACLU supporting something you may not like — speech promoting bigotry, but free speech nonetheless.
… and it happens to take place at my place of employment.
A sophomore at [a high school] in Naperville can wear a T-shirt with an anti-gay message to class next week to protest the school’s annual Day of Silence promoting tolerance of homosexuals, a federal appeals court has ruled.
“Public school officials cannot censor a message expressing one viewpoint on homosexual behavior and then at the same time allow messages that express another viewpoint,” [Nate Kellum, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund] said. The American Civil Liberties Union also filed a brief with the court supporting the student’s right to wear the shirt.
The ACLU of Illinois said this:
I’m looking forward for the Christian Right to praise the ACLU for this.
“The court carefully weighed these two fundamental interests in our public schools and struck the appropriate balance as to this t-shirt” said Adam Schwartz, Senior Staff Counsel for the ACLU of Illinois. “Ensuring the free exchange of ideas – even controversial ideas – while protecting students against undue harassment fosters an environment where students are best able to learn, explore new ideas and mature.”
Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune supports the ruling:
I agree with the message and the goals of the Day of Silence. I wish it weren’t controversial to say that gay people deserve equal rights and full social acceptance. But as soon as you allow ideology to creep into your attempt to separate legitimate controversy from moral truth, you’ve lost any principle that might undergird your argument.
I’m in favor of the ruling, too.
I say this as a teacher who wore a rainbow ribbon all day in class to support the Day of Silence.