The Wolcott Public Schools in Wolcott recognized the free-speech rights of Seth Groody, 17, in response to a federal complaint prepared by the American Civil Liberties Union that alleged the boy was unconstitutionally threatened with suspension or expulsion for wearing his anti-gay T-shirt on the school's "Day of Silence" in April, the Hartford Courant (Conn.) reported Tuesday.
Superintendent Joseph Macary said. "The Wolcott Public Schools has always and will continue to allow students their rights of free expression, so long as all students exercise their rights without creating a substantial disruption to the educational environment for all students."
The Day of Silence is a national event created to call attention to the harassment and bullying in schools of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-ed people.
Groody had designed his own shirt, the front of which displayed a rainbow with a slash through it. The back depicted male and female stick figures holding hands and the caption, "Excessive Speech Day." He removed the shirt when school officials told him he would otherwise face disciplinary action, the Courant reported.
"We recognize the student has the First Amendment to express his views, but we hope he can agree with the basic premise that all of his peers deserve to feel safe and treated with respect regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity," said Andy Marra, the public relations manager for the national Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network.
"Public school students need to know that the First Amendment is not merely a theoretical discussion topic but a real and vital guarantee of freedom in America that entitles them to express their views," said Sandra Staub, the ACLU's legal director.
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