by: Jamie Anne Royce
For the April 2011 Day of Silence, Maverick Couch wore the shirt to school, but Waynesville High School Principal Randy Gebhardt ordered him to turn the shirt inside out. When Maverick asked to wear it again this past fall, Gebhardt threatened him with suspension.
When asked why he should be allowed to wear the shirt, Couch cited his First Amendmentright to freedom of speech saying, “When I can’t walk into school expressing my views, I don’t think that’s right,” to WCPO.
- Cohen v. California (1971): Overturned a disturbing the peace conviction of a man who wore a jacket with an explicit phrase condemning the war
- Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969): Established the constitutional rights of students in public schools
Although subsequent cases have limited the application of Tinker, it remains a viable test of whether a school’s actions violate the First Amendment.
The judgment, agreed to by Maverick Couch and the Waynesville Local School District, allows the student to wear the “Jesus Is Not A Homophobe” T-shirt and requires the district to pay $20,000 in damages and court costs.
Although Couch is set to graduate this weekend, he said the shirt is a statement of pride and he hopes other students now know they can feel pride, too.
Note: This piece was originally featured on Stuff Queer People Need to Know and was republished with permission. You can find the original here.
Jamie Royce is a fierce fancy femme and mobile media machine, working as a freelance writer, reporter, editor and photojournalist. She also blogs at Stuff Queer People Need To Know.