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Judge: Ban on 'Straight Pride' shirt violated student's rights

By The Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A high school violated a student's constitutional rights last year when the principal ordered him not to wear a sweat shirt with the words "Straight Pride" on it, a judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank ruled that the school's dress code was unconstitutional when applied to the student, Elliott Chambers.

Though Frank noted that there are circumstances when a school can prohibit student expression ordinarily protected by the U.S. Constitution, he said Woodbury High School officials failed to demonstrate that Chambers' shirt could disrupt school activities.

Chambers and his family, as plaintiffs, and officials from the South Washington County School District, as defendants, agreed to the ruling, which was filed Jan. 2.

Chambers, currently a junior, wore the sweat shirt in January 2001 to show support "for the traditional and wholesome way to approach sex ... which is God's plan," his mother, Lana Chambers, said at the time. She also said it was an effort to counteract what she felt to be the school's promotion of a "homosexual agenda."

Principal Dana Babbitt told Chambers that he could not wear the sweat shirt because it violated the school's dress code.

The teen and his parents sued the district, and Frank issued a preliminary injunction last May saying that the school had to allow Chambers to wear the shirt.

Federal court lets student wear 'Straight Pride' shirt to school
Judge grants preliminary injunction, saying there is ‘strong likelihood’ principal’s ban on message violates First Amendment. 05.21.01


Student sues over suspension for wearing anti-gay shirt

Federal suit claims California school punished Tyler Chase Harper for expressing his 'sincerely held religious beliefs.' 06.04.04

ACLU challenges district's policy prohibiting gay-themed T-shirts
Missouri teen says school has allowed other students to wear anti-gay clothing; 'I just want the same right.' 11.24.04

Suburban Chicago student can wear anti-gay T-shirt to school
7th Circuit panel orders lower court to tell high school to lift ban on 'Be Happy, Not Gay' while Alexander Nuxoll's free-speech case proceeds. 04.25.08

Debating homosexuality in schools: Censorship doesn’t work
By Charles C. Haynes Trying to stifle speech for or against homosexuality rides on false hope that harmony, tolerance will prevail if no one is allowed to say anything that might offend anyone. 08.24.03

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