Federal judge allows gay Ohio teen to wear "Jesus is not a homophobe" T-shirt in school–for now
On April 10, 2012 At 9:27 am
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Aptly named high school junior Maverick Couch celebrated the National Day of Silence in April of 2011 by wearing a T-shirt to school to draw attention to the bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. The shirt has a rainbow fish and says "Jesus is not a homophobe." The school made him turn the shirt inside out because the T-shirt was deemed "sexual in nature and indecent" by the school district. Maverick decided to sue the school district for violating his First Amendment rights. Local station ABC15News reports:
A federal judge ruled Wednesday to allow the Couch to wear the T-shirt at least until the final decision came down. The Dayton Daily News of Dayton, OH adds that the school may be willing to modify its policies but worries about court costs and other fees:
In February, the school district’s lawyer said Gebhardt “was well within the bounds of his authority” in barring Couch from wearing the T-shirt.
“It is the position of Wayne Local School District Board of Education that the message communicated by the student’s T-shirt was sexual in nature and therefore indecent and inappropriate in a school setting,” lawyer William Deters said in the letter dated Feb. 24.
Superintendent Patrick Dubbs said he was unsure if Couch would be allowed to wear the T-shirt on April 20. He said the district was already willing to modify its position, but continued to be concerned about the lawsuit’s other demands, including damages, court costs and legal fees.
“That was something we were already prepared to do,” Dubbs said. “I’m having real hard time seeing how this got to this point.”
The civil rights group Lambda Legal, is assisting Couch in the lawsuit against the school, located 35 miles northeast of Cincinnati.