Monday, January 03, 2005

Disruptive and Distracting 

It's the T-shirt Rebellion in Missouri! A gay student was sent home for wearing pride t-shirts, as were a group of his friends when they wore similar t-shirts in support a week or two later. The reasoning? These t-shirts were 'disruptive and distracting', and therefore broke the school's dress code, which stated:

"Dress and appearance must not present health or safety hazards, be indecent, disruptive, distracting, or inappropriate for the classroom."

(I'd say that some cheerleading-type outfits are very distracting, and I'd bet the people wearing those don't get sent home...)

The case is being taken to court, and the precedent for a good verdict (though it was narrow even then) is Tinker v. Des Moines in 1969, where three students were suspended for wearing black armbands to protest against the war in Vietnam. The court opinion for that case included these words:

"Students and teachers do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of expression at the schoolhouse gates.”

Of course, these days they probably do...

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