A school district in Ohio said Wednesday (3 April) that a gay student an wear his T-shirt bearing the slogan 'Jesus Is Not a Homophobe' on National Day of Silence on April 20.
The Wayne Local School District made the concession a day after Lambda Legal filed suit and a motion for a temporary restraining order on behalf of Maverick Couch, an openly gay junior who was threatened with suspension if he wore the T-shirt.
'We're glad that Maverick is able to wear his shirt on April 20th,' said Christopher Clark, senior staff attorney for Lambda Legal. 'However, a student’s First Amendment rights are not restricted to one day of the year – we will continue to fight until Maverick is allowed to express who he is on any day he chooses.'
The National Day of Silence falls, which this year falls on April 20 is an annual event sponsored by the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) to raise awareness of LGBT issues in schools.
'Maverick and his family have shown incredible courage in standing up for what they believe in,' said GLSEN Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard. 'We hope officials at Wayne Local School District develop similar understanding and commitment to making sure that all students deserve to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.'
Couch, was called into the principal's office of Waynesville High School last April and told to turn his T-shirt inside out. In addition to the slogan, the shirt also had a a rainbow Ichthys (or 'sign of the fish').
After going home and researching the matter, Couch believed he had the right to wear the shirt so he wore it to school again the next day. This time, Principal Randy Gebhardt told the student, whose mother was called to the school in Waynesville, Ohio, that he needed to remove the shirt or be suspended.
'I’ve been bullied and called names, I wanted to wear the T-shirt to encourage respect for all students, gay or straight,' Couch said this week. 'I wish my school would help me create an accepting environment for LGBT kids, not single me out for punishment.'