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Ohio

Court: Gay student may wear ‘Jesus is not a homophobe’ t-shirt to school

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

CINCINNATI, Ohio — An openly gay Ohio teen who sued his high 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 to school whenever he chooses.

The clerk’s office for U.S. District Court Judge Michael R. Barrett announced Monday that Maverick Couch, 16, and the Wayne Local School District, have agreed to allowed Maverick to wear the t-shirt without restriction.

Maverick Couch

The agreement also specifies that the school district must pay $20,000 in damages and court costs.

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 the 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 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 for only one day, on April 20, 2012 while the case proceeds.

Couch said the shirt is a statement of pride and he hopes other students now know they can feel pride, too.

The school district did not return calls or e-mails seeking comment.

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26 more reader comments:

  1. yea because he knows the person may not know what they do/

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 6:22pm
  2. Isn’t this covered under the rights of the 1st Admendment?

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 6:22pm
  3. …why wouldn’t he be able to wear that…?

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 6:22pm
  4. Schools love banning anything they don’t like. I have one that compares my school to a prison and they banned it. :(

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 6:24pm
  5. School indicated it was “sexual” in nature when they banned it. Seriously, educators need to educate themselves.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 6:26pm
  6. a t-shirt with two pigs going at it with the caption “makin bacon” now that if worn should be banned.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 6:28pm
  7. We teach our youth about Democracy by subjecting them to Hypocritical Dictatorships during their learning years and then wonder why they become so intolerant as adults. People need to be concerned with THEIR OWN BEHAVIOR and leave ALL others to do the same!

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 6:31pm
  8. exactly^

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 6:32pm
  9. Schools, Churches and work places, better wake up. WE ARE HERE TO STAY

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 6:33pm
  10. It’s troubling in so many ways, including how did a principal not recognize this as a First Amendment case? In addition, $20,000?!!!! The taxpayers must love that!
    As for Macerick, good job! I suspect he’ll have his pick of colleges!

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 6:35pm
  11. God is a homophobe and he hate us. so stop believing that shit.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 6:40pm
  12. You are wrong. God does not hate us. The children of Adam and Eve hate us. Conversally, I find it ironic they do when we all are offspring of a blessed incestious union to populate the earth. So, in my humble opinion, to us is to hate themselves too.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 6:46pm
  13. Awesome!

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 6:49pm
  14. Republicans and conservatives hate us. It is about equal protection of the laws under the US Constitutition. I think conservatives hate the Constitution too, so.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 6:50pm
  15. Jesus was not a homophobe, but he was not a big fan of hypocrisy.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 6:53pm
  16. Whouldn’t suing a school get you exspelled? Maverick good job on paving the way for others to wear T Shirts exspessing pride in oneself.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 6:56pm
  17. Praises to the high courts!!!! :S where can I buy mine??

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 6:57pm
  18. Furthermore, God has been on record for saying the only thing he hates is a liar and those who benefit from it.

    Jesus walked the earth for 33 years and did not utter one…single… word about it.

    The Ten Commandments does not list homosexuality as a tenant. Surely, if we were that damned bad and evil, we’d rank a little higher than murder, adultery and stealing. Don’t you think, IC?

    I am far from an organized religion fan, but I do not condone nor let anyone get away with ursuping the His word for their own evil purposes. Too much blood has been spilled, too much sorrow wrought and too many lives lost for me to stand still and stay silent.

    Do not let the Enemy take away one more thing from you. God is ours. Not theirs.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 7:05pm
  19. Cincinnati. Surprise!

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 7:05pm
  20. I and some friends sued our high school in 1984 to stop prayer at public high school graduation. We won and were not expelled. But that was the 80s.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 7:07pm
  21. Upon analyzing recent anti gay sentiment and this article, its apparent to me that they don’t like gays because they don’t understand the true nature of what it is to be gay. They see being gay as something completely sexual. As if it were a perversion. (This is totally evident in the principal’s remarks about the shirt.) But truth is, its who we are programmed to love and who we can find full companionship with. And what I’ve noticed is that when people finally figure it out, they totally reverse their views on what being gay is and what rights they should have. My mother, a super conservative Christian figured it out. If she can, then others like this principal can too. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 7:21pm
  22. Just like Ohioans. I know I live here!

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 7:44pm
  23. Why does something like this shirt need to waste the courts time?? Wtf seriously.. Religious people are getting out of control..

    Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 8:18pm
  24. Not only is this protected by the free speech part of the first amendment but it sounds like a religious belief so it would also be covered by the free practice of religion part as well. Everyone keeps looking at it as a free speech issue and the religious super consecutive say their religious rights are being stepped one. There are many people who hold this as part of their religious belief.

    Posted on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 3:45am
  25. I want one!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 5:04am
  26. very cool.

    Posted on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 6:25am