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Connecticut

Conn. school, under pressure, approves student to wear anti-gay shirt

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

WOLCOTT, Conn. — Officials in a Connecticut school district have backed down in a fight over free speech rights, allowing a student to wear a T-shirt bearing an anti-gay message.

The lawyer for the school district this month wrote to the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, saying Wolcott High School student Seth Groody may wear the T-shirt, which bears a slash mark through a rainbow.

The other side showed a male and female stick figure holding hands above the message “Excessive Speech Day,” the ACLU of Connecticut said.

The ACLU said Groody wore the shirt April 20, which was designated as a day of awareness of harassment toward gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Groody complied with an order from a school administrator that he remove his shirt and replace it with one depicting a Wolcott High School symbol, the ACLU said.

Sandra Staub, legal director of the ACLU of Connecticut, said the district’s reversal te aches students that the First Amendment “is not merely a theoretical discussion topic but a real and vital guarantee” of free speech rights.

The ACLU prepared a lawsuit to be filed in federal court demanding that the school district be stopped from enforcing its T-shirt ban and that no disciplinary measures be taken against Groody.

Without elaborating, school lawyer Christine Chinni wrote to the ACLU on Feb. 14, saying Groody may wear the T-shirt. She did not return a call seeking comment.

Edward Groody, Seth’s father, referred questions to the ACLU.

The ACLU disagrees “very strongly” with Seth’s views on gay rights, but its opinion has no bearing on his right to express those views, Staub said.

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73 more reader comments:

  1. That’s not an anti-gay shirt. That’s an “I hate the color spectrum” shirt.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:04pm
  2. DICKBAAAGS.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:04pm
  3. I just do not understand this. Hate speech is not protected, is it??

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:05pm
  4. can we run this by every neo-con who screams that the aclu is only about protecting the rights of liberals?

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:05pm
  5. I hate rainbows LOL OK you can hate rainbows!!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:05pm
  6. Thats right teach em to hate :/ smfh.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:05pm
  7. and yet he is prlly the one getting his ass poked with some black dick

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:07pm
  8. @Scott, I was going to say the same thing, but about rainbows, lol

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:07pm
  9. can the other kids wear an anti-christian t shirt?

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:07pm
  10. It’s very insulting that he did that, but it was his constitutional right under free speech.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:08pm
  11. I hope the other children start wearing anti-Groody shirts!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:09pm
  12. no they can’t wear any thing like that but they can wear this shit

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:09pm
  13. WOW

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:10pm
  14. it’s insulting and hurtful, what’s next?! making fun of people with disabilities?! not cool :’(

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:11pm
  15. from now on im going to wear a tshirt that has a crucifix with a slash mark over it and i will defy anyone to tell me its wrong its my free speech after all.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:12pm
  16. As much as this sucks, he does have his 1st amendment rights. I’m just not sure if school is the place to express this.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:13pm
  17. I have to agree with the right to free speech…even though I think the kid is a dickhole for wanting to wear it…and let’s see how it would go down if a kid went into that same school wearing a shirt with an upside-down Satanist cross or a Wiccan pentacle.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:13pm
  18. I rember teachers making people turn “inappropriate” shirts inside out. Crazy.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:13pm
  19. Free speech for all. I do not like this message but I will be damned if I take away someone’s right to speech.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:13pm
  20. I think the kid is a dbag for wearing the shirt. Expressing their opinion and bigotry is the kid’s right.. Yes, that kind of soeech is protected by law. At least we know where the kid stands and people can treat them accordingly.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:13pm
  21. Deaven, I love your idea!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:14pm
  22. why not just wear a swastika.
    Oh wait, you mean THATS not considered under freedom of speech?

    Well then!
    I think we have institutionalized homophobia illustrated nicely

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:15pm
  23. A student has been suspended for wearing a shirt with the first amendment on it, yet this is acceptable?

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:15pm
  24. come on..who hates rainbows…thats just mean…whats next banning glitter too?

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:17pm
  25. And that’s not a HATE message???? Jeez….I’m sick up ignorant people!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:20pm
  26. I agree that certain shirts are allowed because this country still allows for heterosexism to run rampant. I wonder what Conn.’s anti-bullying laws are and if this goes against those laws.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:20pm
  27. How pitiful that he would want to draw attention to himself for hatred, how utterly absent of content.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:20pm
  28. The student has the right, but that doesn’t mean that the student will have the support from their peers. Wear a shirt that supports the KKK and you’re technically within your rights, but all you’re doing is telling everyone that you’re a jerk. Sure, some will like you for it, but more and more people will start to realize that you aren’t worth knowing.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:21pm
  29. They are allowed to wear anti-gay shirts, just as we are allowed to wear pro-gay shirts. It’s a two way street, ya know.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:23pm
  30. Better than banning the shirt would be if all of his classmates took the opportunity to talk to him and tell him how that message affects them. Somewhere in there, he’s gotta have a heart. Maybe?? AND, I think there is plenty of room for the school to issue a statement CLEARLY stating its support for its LGBT students, and acknowledging that they know this student’s actions make this a less than welcoming atmosphere, but that the school supports all LGBT students. But bottom line, I gotta support the free speech issue here.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:23pm
  31. the schools no longer have balls…they are charged with the SAFETY of every one of those students, if one is a cunt and provokes violence, then that student has NO RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:24pm
  32. Seriously??! wow…

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:24pm
  33. then the gays should wear anti-straight. They have the right….just like the straight kids do.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:25pm
  34. @Jennifer: I don’t think any of us are Anti-straight, and those who are, have some serious issues that they need to work through. We shouldn’t be trying to cause division, we should be trying to include all, and educate those who do not know. What you’re advocating for only makes us more enemies in the long-run.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:27pm
  35. If a bunch of kids want to tell everyone how much they strike-through rainbows, they have the right to. Maybe enough smart people’ll try to educate them if they make their ignorance clear, anyway.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:28pm
  36. well they can be held responsible when I hit this kid with my rainbow van

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:28pm
  37. The parent’s are too big of cowards, so make your child do it for you.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:31pm
  38. We still have a ways to go!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:32pm
  39. Closet case.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:33pm
  40. ^I wouldn’t subscribe to any notion where gays are anti-straight, just anti-bigot.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:37pm
  41. Actually, I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t agree with the message but I agree that they should be allowed to express their opinion. Just disagreeing with LGBTQ is not the same as bullying.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:38pm
  42. Bullshit. Parents should be charged with a hate crime

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:41pm
  43. hate speech is not free speech.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:42pm
  44. I kinda hope sparkling vampires get banned :P

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:45pm
  45. fuck it, i like my world with those rainbows <3 ~ForGayRights!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:48pm
  46. Oh, if one wore a shirt with a rainbow on it with a verse from the Book of Revelation where it says there is a rainbow around the throne where the Christ sits, would they be against that, too?

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:51pm
  47. Then I think anyone that wanted to wear pro-gay shirts also be allowed to wear them.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:51pm
  48. No rainbow? Is that an atheist shirt? ;)

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:52pm
  49. As far as I’m concerned, everyone has the right to free speech. So if they want to speak their peace, no matter what side they are on, as long as it does not promote violence, then they should be able to.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 1:04pm
  50. this child learned that hatefilled ignorance from someone…who the hell does that to a kid? I’m betting his parents are not charming people themselves.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 1:15pm
  51. how is a shirt with a strike through a rainbow promoting hate? It’s a shirt with a rainbow with a strike through it….period…just makes him look like an idiot for wearing it..so he hates rainbows..whooptie do…stop reading more into it than is there…and btw, the colors on his rainbow do not represent the gay flag…it’s a regular rainbow..he couldn’t even get that right….js

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 1:21pm
  52. How about an ANTI-Christian shirt? Free speech or HATE? I have one: KKK = Krazy Kooky Khristians!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 1:26pm
  53. I have better plan stop paying attention to this and what’s really going on with our government If well all took this time and energy to write this why not take the time and energy to write your officials .. Pick your battles people this one is not a battle worth getting worked up over

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 1:38pm
  54. god forbid someone have an opinion that’s not ‘politically correct’

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 1:45pm
  55. wtf

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 1:47pm
  56. It’s offensive(in my view) but I do agree that he has the right to express himself. It’s unfortunate that this is what he wants to express, though. I’m also sort of surprised it’s being allowed, as I was under the impression that dress codes in most schools had gotten more strict in recent years(plus there are the ones that no longer allow children to use backpacks or any sort of bag to carry their stuff in). I graduated high school in 1994 and there were a lot of things we were not allowed to wear, especially things that could be taken as offensive. You’d be asked to turn it inside out for the rest of the day, and if you refused you’d be sent home. And I came from a pretty ‘liberal’ sort of area.

    As others have asked, I’m very curious as to what would happen if someone were to wear an anti-Christian(or any other religion, really) shirt. Not one that was blatantly hateful(as I don’t feel the one in this story is), but one with either a cross with the slash over it, or a picture of Jesus in the same manner… something along those lines. I’d be willing to bet any student who did that would be pretty severely reprimanded and forced to remove such a shirt.

    Personally I wouldn’t do such a thing because I’m not in to offending others in an intentional manner. Though if someone were to get in my face and hurl insults… well, they’d be fair game. lol

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 1:49pm
  57. Wearing a shirt with a derogatory message towards one particular race would be the SAME thing… yet it would never even reach consideration, no matter the “pressure.”

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 1:50pm
  58. bullying.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 1:52pm
  59. That is so stupid. Just let people be who they want to be…its no one’s business.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 1:55pm
  60. Yeah sure. Encourage hate. Way to be. Dicks!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 2:27pm
  61. Fine but then they need to allow other students to wear T-shirts directed at people who are weak pathetic bullies like that kid. It works both ways.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 2:32pm
  62. Yeah, like a pic of a middle finger and the words, “if you don’t like gays”

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 2:44pm
  63. Being offended by that shirt means that you should also be offended by the guy a few comments up with the “Pro Choice” profile pic bcus he supports killing babies. Get over it, it’s just a shirt. Maybe the kid dont like rainbows. That’s his problem. Be offended by the politicians lobbying for the destruction of homosexuality, not some stupid t shirt

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 2:52pm
  64. okay, in some schools you can’t wear PRO Gay shirts, but they allow that? And who doesn’t love Rainbows? aside from Ann Coulter, maybe

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 2:54pm
  65. what next makeing us buld schools for our gay youth ,must be the people who had this child that makes them do this .

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 3:06pm
  66. No niggers on the bus….. oh that is illegal to say, so why is this shirt ok?

    If I own the bus I can say who gets on or not. If I have free speech I can call people as I see it. Sorry Lady, you are too fat for my bus.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 3:22pm
  67. I say we all pool our money and buy like 1000 rainbow t-shirts and give them away at the school to every student to wear. Hay, free speach.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 4:08pm
  68. I agree with Erica Cook- though, I hope she learns to spell….

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 4:12pm
  69. That is BS if they let him wear that T-shirt then gays at that school should be able to wear t-shirts with rainbows and girl/girl and boy/boy on the back. That’s just wrong. Next they will allow open gay bashing. Stupid ppl.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 4:13pm
  70. To Melody, Ann Coultier used to be a man. She was a drag queen in Key West then went to New York and eventually had several surgeries. Look at her Adam’s apple.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 4:16pm
  71. its not anti gay. the idiot just hates rainbows.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 4:22pm
  72. Free speech goes both ways.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 5:45pm
  73. Ok yet if a kid wear a bud light shirt or a shirt with drugs on it or a shirt with a diffetent race crossed out. He would be told to remove it. Because its offensive!! Do we not have morals anymore. Come on parents. RESPECT!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 6:43pm