Illinois court rules students cannot wear anti-gay t-shirt

A federal district court denied a preliminaryinjunction request April 17 that was filed by two Neuqua Valley High Schoolstudents who wanted to wear their anti-gay T-shirts that read, “Be happy, notgay.”
The parents of Heidi Zamecnik and Alexander Nuxoll filed alawsuit against the Indian Prairie School District March 21 for prohibitingZamecnik from wearing her T-shirt in April 2006. The students wanted to wear theshirt this year in support of the “Day of Truth,” a nationwide silent protestagainst homosexuality held on April 19 in opposition to the “Day of Silence”that is traditionally held the day before. Zamecnik and Nuxoll have bothattributed their protest to their Christian beliefs.
The courtruled that the school’s limitation of student expression was permissible “inlight of the alternative forms of expression that will not be restricted” forthe April 18 silent protest.  An attorney for the students said the rulingwill be appealed.
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SPLC View: This is the second case in the past year totarget speech by students expressing anti-gay sentiments on a T-shirt. It makesclear that at least some judges appear willing to carve out a new — andtroubling — exception to protections for independent, in-school student speechwhere an “intolerant” message is concerned. (Last August, a federal court inCalifornia ruled that a student wearing an anti-gay T-shirt violated students’rights to be secure and left alone. See story at: The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately vacated that decision and sent the caseback to the district court.) This case reminds us once again that administrativecensorship cuts across all political, philosophical and religious lines and thatthose expressing unpopular, or minority, views remain most at risk.Unfortunately, those in the majority fail to remember that tomorrow they mightbe in the minority and that it will be their “intolerant” or “offensive” speechunder attack.

Case: Zamecnik v. Indian Prairie Sch. Dist. #204Bd. of Ed., No. 07-1586 (N.D. Ill. prelim. inj. denied Apr. 17,2007).