The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee and Lambda Legal said Monday they have received assurances that a student wearing T-shirts printed with pro-gay slogans won’t be censored. The school also will train staff on the anti-bullying policy to avoid harassment of any student.
Cole Goforth, a freshman at Greenbrier High School, was sent home from school April 5 for wearing an “I (heart) Lady Gay Gay” T-shirt he purchased at a local mall. He and his mother contacted the ACLU and Lambda Legal after being told his attire – and any pro-gay messages – were “disruptive.”
In addition, Goforth said he was the victim of daily harassment at school including threats of violence. He was told by one school employee that he had “brought [harassment] on himself by coming out.”
“Sending Cole home for wearing a shirt with the word ‘gay’ on it not only trampled this student’s right to freedom of expression, but also sent a destructive message to all students that there is something wrong with being gay or even saying the word ‘gay,’ ” said Lambda Legal attorney Beth Littrell in a statement. “We are pleased that school officials have recognized their obligation to respect pro-LGBT speech and to protect students from anti-gay harassment instead of allowing bullies to silence speakers.”