We've all heard the stories about the LGBTQ students who are sent home from school for wearing pro-LGBT clothing; t-shirts with sayings, high heels, that kinda 'gay' stuff. But at Hardin County High School--in Tennessee, wouldn't you know--the Southern Poverty Law Center [SPLC] has come forward to represent a student who said her friends were threatened with punishment for wearing apparel adorned with slogans supportive of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
That student, Isabella Nuzzo, a Junior at the school, said she isn't gay, and she herself was not threatened, but her friends often wear shirts emblazoned with support for equal rights for LGBT people. And that didn't sit well with at least one school official.
Although Nuzzo, 17, did not name that school official, the letter sent from the SPLC said Assistant Principal Ryan Miller was the official who reprimanded Nuzzo and her friends. He apparently told the students their clothing, and the slogans, were advertising or promoting sex.
Sam Wolfe, an SPLC staff attorney, is representing the group because those sexual advertisements included phrases like “Lesbian and Proud.” Doesn't sound like a sex ad, eh?
“Isabella would wish to wear (similar LGBT supportive apparel) in the future,” Wolfe said. "But now she would expect to get in trouble for expressing the same types of messages she would like to display.”
He called the apparel in line with the students’ First Amendment rights of expression, which he said the school violated by not allowing them to wear LGBT-supportive apparel. The SPLC letter demanded that school officials “take meaningful action to remedy the violations,” or face a federal lawsuit on behalf of Nuzzo.
Wolfe said the SPLC chose to represent Nuzzo after an incident on April 20, the “Day of Silence,” a national day of awareness to the harassment and bullying against LGBT youth. Assistant Principal Ryan Miller apparently told a student, wearing a 'Lesbian and Proud' t-shirt, that she turn the shirt inside out or face suspension.
Isabella Nuzzo and her friends heard about the incident and decided to organize a “Week of Pride” to protest the assistant principal’s actions, and the following Monday nearly half of the student population wore LGBT-supportive clothing.
But, also, half the school was against the celebration, In fact, Nuzzo said that during one of the class breaks that week about half the school’s students gathered in a hallway and prayed for their other classmates, saying they would “pray the gay away.”
The SPLC letter also said that Miller “instructed students to immediately terminate the Week of Pride and to stop expressing support of LGBT people or face discipline such as suspension, class failure and disqualification from graduation.”
For being gay friendly.
But, it's Tennessee, where they try to get teachers not to say 'Gay' so........