School debates 'Straight Pride' shirts

Nov. 11, 2010 at 1:28 PM

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill., Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Controversy has erupted at an Illinois high school over "Straight Pride" shirts worn by students during an anti-bullying campaign, observers said.

Three students wore shirts to St. Charles North High School Monday with the words "Straight Pride" on the front and on the back a biblical verse calling homosexuality an "abomination" and saying those who perform homosexual acts shall be "put to death," the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald reported.

Monday was the first day of Ally Week, seen nationally as a time to promote anti-bullying efforts against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, the newspaper said.

Student Amanda Harshbarger said Monday was specifically designated to recognize recent gay student suicides resulting from bullying.

"That's where the bad feelings started, because they chose to wear the shirts on a day specifically about gay teen suicide," Harshbarger said. "What the shirts said were making kids feel violated and intimidated."

School and district officials talked with students Monday about respectfully disagreeing with their classmates.

The three students voluntarily agreed to black out the biblical quote and were allowed to wear the shirts the rest of the day, school district spokesman Jim Blaney said.

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