School officials in the residential hamlet of Wolcott, Conn., have reversed a prior decision to prohibit a high school student from wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with an anti-gay message.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut made the announcement Tuesday, reports Fox News. Shockingly enough, the ACLU is representing the student, Seth Groody.
The civil liberties organization had previously warned that it was ready to sue the school district to protect Groody’s First Amendment rights (as well a handful of rights under the Connecticut state Constitution).
An attorney for the school district, Christine Chinni, recently notified the ACLU of the school’s district’s change of heart by way of a letter. The exact contents of that letter have not been made public.
The white T-shirt is festooned with a bold, red “universal no” circle and slash mark symbol superimposed over a multicolored rainbow. The other side of the shirt contains male and female stick figures holding hands and the words “Excessive Speech Day,” ABC News reports.
Groody wore the shirt to Wolcott High School last April on a day that had been designated as a day of awareness concerning the harassment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals.
At the time, the ACLU explains, a school official told Groody to remove the offending shirt and put on a Wolcott High shirt instead. Groody complied, but under protest.
Groody wore the shirt because he opposes gay marriage. He also wanted express opposition to the school’s message — as he perceived it — in sponsoring such a day in the first place.
Sandra Staub, legal director of the ACLU of Connecticut, made it a point to insist that the organization opposes Groody’s views on homosexuality “very strongly,” notes ABC News. Nevertheless, Staub said, the First Amendment “is not merely a theoretical discussion topic but a real and vital guarantee” ensuring that Americans can say what they want.
“The First Amendment was written to protect unpopular speech, which is naturally the kind of speech that will always need protection,” Staub added.
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