* T-Shirt available at gayshirt
An out lesbian in Richmond, Virginia was asked to cover up her lesbian pride t-shirt by a teacher at her high school (it depicted two interlocking women’s symbols). The seventeen-year-old high school student was first asked to cover her shirt, and complied. When she wore the shirt again the same teacher sent her to the principal’s office where they also told her to cover the shirt or be suspended.
The ACLU has gotten involved in the case, arguing that the school has violated the student’s rights to freedom of speech. They want all documentation of the incident removed from her records, and to clearly state that students are allowed to wear “political” items of clothing. According to the Associated Press, the school’s current dress code states that students are not permitted to wear shirts with”bawdy, salacious or sexually suggestive messages.” The teacher involved said that the shirt’s presence in her classroom interfered with her ability to teach.
While wearing an article of clothing that proclaims ones queerness may seem like something minor, but I was honestly shocked to see this report. As a senior in my violently homophobic high school I wore dyke pride shirts nearly every day (I had been kicked out of home earlier in the year, and ran the semi-rural school’s first GSA). Even in that environment I was never asked to remove my shirt, which could be why this case took me by surprise. The idea that youth are being disciplined in the school setting for saying proudly who they are is deplorable.