Skip to comments.Court says high school can enforce dress code against anti-gay T-shirt
Posted on 04/20/2006 7:02:14 PM PDT by newzjunkey
SAN FRANCISCO A suburban San Diego teenager who was barred from wearing a T-shirt with anti-gay rhetoric to class lost a bid to have his high school's dress code suspended Thursday after a federal appeals court ruled the school could restrict what students wear to prevent disruptions.
The ruling by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals addressed only the narrow issue of whether the dress code should be unenforced pending the outcome of the student's lawsuit.
A majority of judges said, however, that Tyler Chase Harper was unlikely to prevail on claims that the Poway Unified School District violated his First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and religion for keeping him out of class when he wore a shirt with the message homosexuality is shameful.
Tyler Chase Harper sued the Poway Unified School District in San Diego federal court after the principal at Poway High School refused to let the student attend class wearing a T-shirt scrawled with the message homosexuality is shameful.
Harper was a sophomore at Poway High in 2004 when he wore the T-shirt the day after a group called the Gay-Straight Alliance held a Day of Silence to protest intolerance of gays and lesbians. The year before, the campus was disrupted by protests and conflicts between students over the Day of Silence.
After Harper refused to take off the T-shirt, Poway High School's principal kept Harper out of class and assigned him to do homework in a conference room for the rest of the day. He was not suspended from school.
On Thursday, the three-judge appeals court panel said the school is permitted to prohibit Harper's conduct...if it can demonstrate that the restriction was necessary to prevent either the violation of the rights of other students or substantial disruption of school activities.
The opinion, written by Judge Stephen Reinhardt and joined by Judge Sydney Thomas for a 2-1 ruling, didn't decide the merits of the student's lawsuit, which will be heard in federal court in San Diego.
Judge Alex Kozinski wrote a blistering dissent, arguing that the high school had in effect authorized a heated debate over sexual orientation when it allowed the Day of Silence.
Harper's T-shirt was not an out-of-the-blue affront to fellow students who were minding their own business, Kozinski wrote. Rather, Harper wore his T-shirt in response to the Day of Silence, a political activity that was sponsored or at the very least tolerated by school authorities.
Jack Sleeth, a school district attorney, said that the 9th Circuit ruling supports the district's prohibition against T-shirts with messages that are offensive to some.
When it violates the rights of other, then it can be prohibited, Sleeth said. It is that simple of an issue.
Robert Tyler, an attorney for Harper, said he may wait until the main case is decided before determining if further appeals are necessary.
Mr. Harper's speech was censored, Tyler said. There wasn't any disruption, but there was concern that it was politically incorrect.
The case is Harper v. Poway Unified School District, 04-57037.
That explains everything. That court should be disbanded.
The more I read about these lawsuits over t-shirts and clothing, the more I become convinced that the answer is school uniforms.
"Day of Silence" is supposed to be a homo protest day in the public schools when all "gay teens" protest be being silent for the entire school day.
As if the fudge-packers can be silent for ten minutes.
I could see if the T-shirt threatened or endorsed violence against gays or used derogatory or hateful language but all the shirt did is take a moral stand against homosexuality. If this shirt is upsetting to gays then why aren't Che Guevara T's banned? I would say they are threatening and upsetting to Cubans to whom he was there tormentor. Schools need to stop being hypocrites.
The queers are well represented at Mardi Gras.
I went to court and all I got was this stupid T-shirt???
That is a solid idea.
Homosexuality is shameful
The kid has as much right to express himself in school as the sodomites and lesbians do trying to coerce everyone into observing their self proclaimed holiday on school property
with the consent and support of the school administrators,school board,teachers and tax payers...
The student is being denied his freedom of expression...
If he isnt allowed to express his thoughts on homosexuality then the sodomites and lesbians must also be denied theirs
Go check out Volokh Conspiracy. His blog is good as he is a great 1st amendment Constitutional Scholar. He gives this ruling a big thumbs down and says the 9th Circus has set itself up for a 9-0 smack down from the USSC. Not that that is unusual.
The more I think of vouchers and homeschooling.
Homosexuals are not oppressed. That is totally silly. They want to preceive themselves as such so they can be a special group. They have the same rights as everyone else except the 9th circus thinks they are more special.
fourth: black is white.
Stop that. Everyone knows homos are horribly oppressed in the US. They need to all stay in Canada where it is safe.
"the Gay-Straight Alliance held a Day of Silence to protest intolerance of gays and lesbians."
You selfish Gays/Lesbos...its always about you and your little sexual insecurities that you announce to all....when do you ever recognize and call attention to issues not connected to your own sexual soap operas?