In a display of bravery, a middle school student has taken on his school board after being sent home for wearing a shirt that correctly stated that there are only two genders. The incident took place on March 21st at Nichols Middle School, where the 12-year-old was taken out of gym class and sat down with two adults for what turned out to be an uncomfortable conversation.
The student was told that some students were complaining about the words on his shirt and that it was making them feel unsafe.
“What did my shirt say? Five simple words: there are only two genders. Nothing harmful, nothing threatening, just a statement I believe to be a fact,” he said.
Despite being told that he was not in trouble, the student was informed that he would need to remove his shirt before he could return to class. When he refused, his father was called to come and pick him up.
The student, in a speech to the school board, stated that he believed that his shirt was a statement of fact and not harmful or threatening. He questioned who the “protected class” was that his shirt was targeting and wondered whether their feelings were more important than his rights.
The student also noted that he had not seen any complaints from staff or students about his shirt and that several students had even supported his actions.
The school board had argued that the student’s shirt was a disruption to learning, but the student argued that no one had left the classroom or burst into tears. He noted that he experienced disruptions to his learning every day, such as students acting out in class, but that nothing was done about those disruptions.
“I feel like these adults were telling me that it wasn’t okay for me to have an opposing view,” he continued. “Their arguments were weak, in my opinion. I didn’t go to school that day to hurt feelings or cause trouble.”
He ended his statement by reminding the school board of the First Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees his right to express his political opinions.
“My hope in being here tonight is to bring the school committee’s attention to this issue. I hope that you will speak up for the rest of us so we can express ourselves without being pulled out of class,” the student finished. The incident highlights a growing trend of conflicts between students and school boards over issues related to gender identity and the suppression of the First Amendment.
A similar incident occurred recently in Michigan when two students took legal action against their school district after they were not allowed to wear “Let’s Go Brandon” sweatshirts to class.
The students claimed that they have the right to protest against the President of the United States, while the school district argued that the sweatshirts are indecent and they had the authority to ban such material.
Lawyers for the students explain that criticism of the president is protected by the First Amendment, and the slogan “Let’s Go Brandon” is not lewd, profane, indecent, vulgar or obscene.
The legal case involves two siblings, a seventh-grader and a high school freshman, who were ordered to remove their sweatshirts by the assistant principal. The brothers’ lawyers argued that the school’s policy against political speech is discriminatory, as the school allegedly allows students to wear clothing with LGBTQ and gay pride messages.