Wolcott school OKs anti-gay shirt - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Wolcott school OKs anti-gay shirt


Wolcott school officials have reversed their decision and are now allowing a student to wear a T-shirt with an anti-gay message, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut.

The lawyer for the school district said high school student Seth Groody will be allowed to wear the shirt, which shows a slash through a rainbow, an internationally-recognized symbol of gay rights, according to the ACLU.

Groody wore the T-shirt in April 2012, which was designated as a Day of Silence at Wolcott High School as part of a national movement to raise awareness of bullying and harassment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people.

One side of Groody's shirt depicted a rainbow, the commonly recognized symbol of gay rights, with a slash through it.

The other side showed a male stick figure and a female stick figure holding hands above the legend, Excessive Speech Day.

According to Groody, he was ordered to remove the T-shirt, and did so under protest.

"The First Amendment was written to protect unpopular speech, which is naturally the kind of speech that will always need protection," said Sandra Staub, legal director of the ACLU of Connecticut. "The ACLU has fought hard for same-sex marriage and we couldn't agree with Seth less on that issue, but he is absolutely correct about his right to express his opinion."

The ACLU, who is expected to hold a press conference in the coming days, said it was prepared to sue the school district.

Without elaborating, school attorney Christine Chinni wrote to the ACLU saying that Groody may wear the T-shirt.

"The Wolcott Public Schools believes in and supports the First Amendment rights of students, in accordance with both court decisions and the policies of the Wolcott Board of Education," Wolcott Public Schools said on its Facebook page Tuesday night. "The Wolcott Public Schools has always and will continue to allow students their rights of free expression, so long as all students exercise their rights without creating a substantial disruption to the educational environment for all students."

On Tuesday, Groody told Eyewitness News that he made it clear he wasn't looking to start trouble and just wanted to make his stance clear. He is expected to speak in-depth at the ALCU press conference.

Parents told Eyewitness News that the T-shirt controversy made for a "good civics lesson."

"He was well within his rights to protest in any way he felt just as much as it would be for a young man or woman who was gay to profess whatever they were professing," said Judy Butler.

Groody is expected to wear a T-shirt with a similar in the future.

To check out our original story, click here.

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