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Ohio

Judge: Gay student can wear ‘Jesus is not a Homophobe’ shirt for 1 day

Friday, April 6, 2012

WAYNESVILLE, Ohio — An openly gay Ohio teen, who is suing his school after being threatened with suspension for wearing a t-shirt containing the message “Jesus is not a Homophobe,” will be allowed to wear the shirt after all — but for 1 day only, a federal judge ruled this week.

Maverick Couch

In a conference with Judge Barrett of the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Ohio, the Wayne Local School District agreed to permit 16-year-old Maverick Couch to wear his t-shirt on one day only, GLSEN’s National Day of Silence, while the case proceeds.

The Wayne Local School District made this concession after Lambda Legal filed suit and a motion for a temporary restraining order on Tuesday on behalf of Maverick.

“We’re glad that Maverick is able to wear his shirt on April 20th,” said Christopher Clark, Senior Staff Attorney for Lambda Legal.

“However, a student’s First Amendment rights are not restricted to one day of the year – we will continue to fight until Maverick is allowed to express who he is on any day he chooses.”

The suit stems from an April 2011 incident at Waynesville High School, when Maverick wore a t-shirt with a rainbow Ichthys, or “sign of the fish,” and a slogan that says “Jesus Is Not a Homophobe” in observation of National Day of Silence.

According to the suit, principal Randy Gebhardt called Maverick into his office and instructed him to turn the T-shirt inside out; Maverick complied.

But over the summer, Maverick further researched his First Amendment rights, and when school resumed in the fall of 2011, he approached the school principal seeking permission to wear the T-shirt. Gebhardt restated that he would be suspended if he wore the shirt.

In January 2012, Lambda Legal contacted Gebhardt, and outlined the legal precedent supporting Maverick’s right to wear the shirt, to which the school district issued this response:

“…the message communicated by the student’s T-shirt is sexual in nature and therefore indecent and inappropriate in a school setting.”

On Tuesday, April 3, 2012, Lambda Legal filed suit, arguing that the school district violated Maverick’s First Amendment rights, and asked the Court to issue a temporary restraining order allowing Maverick to wear the T-shirt while the Court resolved the case.

Rather than oppose the request for a restraining order, the school district agreed to allow Maverick to wear the T-shirt on April 20 while the case proceeds.

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51 more reader comments:

  1. WOW people in the states are that homophobic? Thats PATHETIC!!!!

    Posted on Friday, April 6, 2012 at 9:11pm
  2. Sunday at church??

    Posted on Friday, April 6, 2012 at 9:12pm
  3. I think Obama is a shitty president. because if I were president I’d legalize gay EVERYWHERE

    Posted on Friday, April 6, 2012 at 9:12pm
  4. That’s bullshit. Ugh I HATE the authorities. They thing something’s serverly wrong with us because we like the same sex well you know what they’re something wrong with them for thinking that! It’s not like were heterosexual-phobics or anything so THEY shouldn’t be homophobic! SIMPLE. But no. It’s not “normal” ….. Well. WTF IS NORMAL? (:

    Posted on Friday, April 6, 2012 at 9:17pm
  5. Love it!!! I want a t-shirt

    Posted on Friday, April 6, 2012 at 9:18pm
  6. its not that courts are saying he can wear it but still not let it become a nuisance, witch is perfectly fine, if a kid went to school every day with any other one shirt every day of the week the school would be asking if the parents need a food drive. so yes being allowed to wear it and still not cause a problem sounds fair, witch was the point of all this.

    Posted on Friday, April 6, 2012 at 9:20pm
  7. Cassondra…the predident of the United States does not make the laws, Congress does. Obama has done a lot so far as Congress will let him.

    Posted on Friday, April 6, 2012 at 9:32pm
  8. Hey Cassondra – Whether or not gay marriage is legal in each state is the decision of that particular state’s government. Obama has been pretty good to us.

    Posted on Friday, April 6, 2012 at 9:48pm
  9. WTH kind of rights are those? 1 day. Yeah 1 day judge, you’ll get it.

    Posted on Friday, April 6, 2012 at 10:25pm
  10. Sepporation of church and state. Get your ruling off of his religious rights.

    Posted on Friday, April 6, 2012 at 10:26pm
  11. facepalm.

    Posted on Friday, April 6, 2012 at 10:26pm
  12. in reading the whole article – the judge basically granted the student the ability to wear the shirt on the day of silence – april 20th. from my reading, this is a temporary decision while the case is in proceedings, as the date for day of silence (The students main reason for wanting to .wear the shirt) is coming up. so this is a win, imho.

    Posted on Friday, April 6, 2012 at 10:32pm
  13. Ignorance apparently knows no bounds. :3 Love how the world works sometimes (Sarc.) That kid should be proud for having the courage to wear that shirt ^_^ <3

    Posted on Friday, April 6, 2012 at 11:26pm
  14. He should be allowed to wear it everyday, not just April 20th. That’s just how I feel on it.

    Posted on Friday, April 6, 2012 at 11:57pm
  15. Way to go, as you should be allowed!

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 12:38am
  16. yeah he should be allowed to wear his every day.. others can ear slogans that are not nearly as nice

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 3:14am
  17. “the message communicated by the student’s T-shirt is sexual in nature”??? Really? How so? Because it mentions the word “homophobe”? I can understand maybe if the shirt said, “Jesus likes gay sex”….this is just silly. Why are schools so strict about anything remotely relating to anything gay? Do you see what other students where to school??

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 4:29am
  18. read the article and took a look at the shirt in question and would just like to ask “Where is sex mentioned ANYWHERE on that shirt? Come on, Ohio! It doesn’t even say ‘Homosexual’, that I at least could understand because of the ‘sex’ in ‘Homosexual’ (Sorry for the pun, but I just HAD to do it).”

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 6:27am
  19. One day? He’s allowed his First Amendment rights for one day? Amazing….and a very sad comment on the judge’s understanding of our Constitution.

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 6:35am
  20. LOve this shirt!

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 6:50am
  21. awwwww. how sweet of Daddy judge to let him wear it one day. come to America, land of the “free.” more like America that hasn’t evolved in 200+ years.

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 7:05am
  22. seriously?? one day? THIS is what our court system is spending time on? It’s a t-shirt. And WAY better than most I’ve seen.

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 7:55am
  23. judge is being rather judgemental of (Jesus), isn’t he?

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 8:20am
  24. He should be able to wear it whenever he wants

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 9:50am
  25. One day? What makes that one day different than an y other day. He should have the right to wear in every day if he wants.

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 9:52am
  26. really thats weak!! for one day!! yea thats not justice!!

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 9:53am
  27. ONE DAY? Give me a break. He should wear different versions every single day.

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 9:53am
  28. What about a tatoo saying that?

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 9:54am
  29. realize that baby steps are better then nothing, yes its just one day he gets to wear it but years ago that wouldnt have even been allowed. this is a war were having to fight so take the small wins and be proud of them :)

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 9:56am
  30. This is beyond pathetic. I wear heavy metal band shirts that would likely have me SHOT where this kid is, then.

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 9:56am
  31. What is so offensive about that shirt? I think its beautiful!

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 9:56am
  32. I like the idea of the tat, he can have it seen 24/7 365/366 days a year and they can’t do anything about it

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 9:57am
  33. Why does freedom of speech and religion not protect this kid like it does the Westboro Baptist Church and their hateful minions?

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 9:57am
  34. I want one now, to wear it EVERY DAY

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 9:57am
  35. judges shouldnt be allowed to make a decision like that. individual censorship is still sensorship. freedom of speach in thei country isnt based on sexual orientation.

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 9:59am
  36. After reading this article I want to go out and buy the shirt and wear it here in Montana.

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 10:00am
  37. How is that shirt sexual???

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 10:01am
  38. What gives a judge to infringe on free speach, is he above the law

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 10:04am
  39. Bad karma, judge.

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 10:06am
  40. The shirt isn’t sexual! They just don’t care, the sad thing is, is that he prob not be able to wear it there again. One day is stupid. But it’s better than nothing

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 10:10am
  41. i want that shirt! (:

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 10:22am
  42. why only 1 day!? That’s ridiculous!!!

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 10:36am
  43. Id wear the shirt again and again. Judges are retarded. They punish the innocent and help keep guilty free. Like mine on 90 day probation for sliding on ice and totalling my car, which the judge yhought the ticket was stupid but still put me on probation. Justice system in america sucks!

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 10:38am
  44. Jesus was probably boning Thomas while Mary Magdalene watched, let’s be real.

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 10:45am
  45. Oh wow (with the fullest level of sarcasm possible)! He gets to wear his shirt for one whole day! Seems like if it is okay for one day, he should be allowed to wear it EVERY day. Maybe I’m just being overly cynical, but come on! If the school system is soooo considerate to allow this young man to wear the shirt for one day, where is the perceived harm in allowing him to wear it every day if he chooses to do so? If the principle’s true concern with this t-shirt is that it is sexual in nature, how can they justify allowing him to wear it all, even for that one day? Oh wait, I understand, it is non-sexual on that one day per year and then becomes filth again for the next 364 days! Gotcha!!!

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 11:02am
  46. Why is it wrong to wear a shirt that depicts Jesus in a good light?! Christians do a good job of making him look bad, and when we wanna make Him look good, they get mad.

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 11:26am
  47. At least the school lost in a federal court….I am thankful for small favors….

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 12:19pm
  48. To all the dirty fucking whore right wing christians who are crying foul over this….GO TO HELL U HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WE GO THRU. YOU ARE GOING TO BURN IN HELL…and soon, VERY soon,,,I hope…

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 1:26pm
  49. As an atheist and firm believer in separation of church and state, I see no problem with this shirt. The argument is probably something like: “It’ll distract students from work!” Tough shit. How about we teach students how to deal with opposing views instead of pretending like they don’t exist? We have freedom of speech.

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 1:56pm
  50. The article is saying the case isn’t decided yet. The school decide to allow him to wear the shirt on the national day of silence untill there is a court order to allow or not allow that type of shirt instead of being forced to allow him to wear it via a restraining order. The fact that they are choosing to allow it for one day instead of at all is good at this point because they are hurting there case for it being in appropriate just by letting happen once.

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 2:06pm
  51. Something happened at my High School like this. An allie friend of mine wore a shirt that said ” God forbid your lifestyle should be legal” and on the back it said “I support Gay rights” with a vote ballad with a huge check mark on it. He made this shirt, and wore it to support his friends, but when the Principal saw the shirt my friend was told to take it off or be suspended. This event happened on a Friday, and over the weekend half of the school made shirts with other pro-gay slogans and wore them to school on Monday. The school didn’t want the press called in, so we were all aloud to wear them and the original boy who started the pro-gay fashion trend was issued an apology. After that I wore the hoodie I made for the occasion every day.

    Posted on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 5:51pm