First diary in a long - long time. Months. Seems like decades. Extremely busy with work and other hobbies. But since this issue is directly related to the high school for my home I thought I should weigh in on these series of events.
First a shirt that reads "gay? fine by me." was deemed inappropriate by someone at Hoover High School.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, who does a great job on civil rights issues, wrote a fantastic letter citing ,the landmark Supreme Court case in the area of student free speech,Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503, 506 (1969).
Sara, and all other students at your school, have the right to express their views freely, so long as their chosen mode of expression does not “materially and substantially disrupt the work and discipline of the school.” Tinker, 393 U.S. at 513. A school administrator’s fear of future disruption or interference must have a genuine basis in fact and be reasonable – “undifferentiated fear or apprehension of disturbance is not enough to overcome the right to freedom of expression.” Id. at 508.
So the Hoover official disrupts class by pulling the student out of class violating 1st and 14th amendment rights. Classy!!
Evidently, officials at your school told Sara that she could not wear the shirt because they were “concerned for her safety.” Yet, Sara did not experience any threats of violence, nor did the officials tell Sara that there were threats of violence against gay students from which disruption could have, or did, result. In fact, Sara had routinely worn the t-shirt during the previous school year without incident. Therefore, the officials’ stated reason for the censorship was unfounded and unsubstantiated.
Fortunately. There are a number of silver linings in this story. Let's not forget the true hero in all of this though - the 15 year old who stood up for her rights who chose not to remain nameless in this fight for which she should be commended. What a strong spirit.
The 15-year-old girl who took her complaint to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Sara Couvillon, said in the statement issued by the center this afternoon that she's very relieved and feels this is a major victory for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Alabama.
"This was not just about me -- it was about encouraging people to be brave in standing up for themselves and standing up for their rights," Couvillon said in the statement.
Any injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere.