Eye on Education

ACLU says Celina High School’s Censorship of Pro-Gay T-Shirts is Unconstitutional

Earlier this week, 20 students at Celina High School were told to remove T-shirts featuring a pro-gay design. The students say they were initially told they can’t wear the T-shirts because they contain a political message, though the school’s superintendent, Jesse Steiner, later said students were asked to remove their T-shirts because they were disruptive.

Celina HIgh School’s dress code policy does not ban political clothing, but it does ban anything that might “disrupt the education program.”

Now the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio has sent the high school a letter urging administrators to reconsider their ban on the pro-gay clothing, calling it a suppression of free speech. It also says the excuse for telling the students to change their clothing was a “heckler’s veto.”

In a press release sent out earlier today, the ACLU wrote:

“Schools should be a place where students are free to express their beliefs,” said ACLU of Ohio Legal Director James Hardiman. “None of these young people acted inappropriately, and only wished to express their support for all members of their community. Expressing their views did not disrupt the learning environment, but now the administration’s unconstitutional overreaction has.”

The students have been successful in getting their story out, especially via the website Reddit, where a post about the incident has gone viral. In the post, students describe classmates who wear political T-shirts with messages supporting Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney or opposing abortion.

The kids who wore the pro-gay T-shirts to school were doing it as a sign of support for friends who had been told to change their own shirts the previous week. That was directed at a pair of girls who, for Twins Day, wore shirts that read “Lesbian 1″ and “Lesbian 2.”

U.S. News and World Report points out that if the case were to go to court, legal precedent would be on the side of the students and the ACLU. Just last year, another Ohio student won a court case and $20,000 against Wayne Local Schools, which had threatened to discipline him for wearing a T-shirt with a rainbow fish on it that read, “Jesus is not a homophobe.”


  • AustinPops

    Maybe they ought to put their messages on banners and have the football players run through it before the season ends. That seems to be OK with Perry, Abbott and the rest of the Texas dim-bulbs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nesta.davis.3 Nesta Davis

    Bravo to the school!!!!!! If it was a Christian statement ACLU is at the front saying it violates peoples rights. What about a Christian child freedom of religion. We are told we can not cram our beliefs down any ones throat, what about the gays cramming it down our children’s throat. My children’s lifestyle might be all JESUS all the time as much as GAYS are all THE SAME SEX all the time. Wrong for Christian children, ACLU, wrong for gay children. Uniforms solves this problem. You go school!!!!!!!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/MarkFeigenbutz Mark Feigenbutz

      You’re a moron. The article clearly states that the school allows students to wear t-shirts in support of “Christian values.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/ramon.selove Ramon Selove

    This link is for a film made by Nathan Selove. He entered it in a film contest at Sherando High School in Stephens City, Virginia last month. In a classic high school overreaction to the violence in Newtown, the school banned this film. In the Hazelwood decision the supreme court basically said that the first amendment doesn’t apply to students in high school. So the school did have a legal right to censor the film. But it chose to ban this film which is a serious portrayal of the consequences of violence while allowing another film that treated actual school shootings as a joke.

    This is an excellent film made by a very talented young man (He happens to have autism/Asperger’s). His film deserves to be seen. Please don’t let the censors win. Spread this link on your social networks.


About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »