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Federal judge rejects student's challenge of dress code

By The Associated Press
01.26.07

SAN DIEGO — A federal judge has upheld a suburban San Diego high school's dress code, rejecting a challenge by a student who got pulled from class for wearing a T-shirt with anti-gay language.

Tyler Chase Harper sued the Poway Unified School District in 2004 to overturn a policy that says the schools will aim to reduce or prevent "hate behavior," including threats and attacks based on sexual orientation. The student claimed the policy limited free speech.

The front of Harper's T-shirt read, "Homosexuality is shameful. Romans 1:27." The back read, "Be ashamed. Our school has embraced what God has condemned."

U.S. District Judge John Houston ruled Jan. 24 in Harper v. Poway Unified School District that the dress-code policy was not overly broad. The judge also dismissed Harper as a plaintiff because he graduated from Poway High School last year but considered the case on behalf of his sister Kelsie Harper, who is still a student at the school.

Kevin Theriot, a lawyer for the Harpers, said he would appeal.

"It's a very disturbing opinion," said Theriot, a lawyer with the Alliance Defense Fund, which describes itself as an advocate for religious freedom. "What this means is the school can allow viewpoints of one group but not another."

In April, the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to order that the policy be suspended pending the outcome of the student's lawsuit.


Update
9th Circuit: High school can bar anti-gay T-shirt — for now
Panel majority says teen's First Amendment claims will likely fail in lower court; Judge Alex Kozinski writes blistering dissent. 04.21.06

Previous
9th Circuit: High school can bar anti-gay T-shirt — for now
Panel majority says teen's First Amendment claims will likely fail in lower court; Judge Alex Kozinski writes blistering dissent. 04.21.06

Related

Tinkering with Tinker standards?

By David L. Hudson Jr. Full 9th Circuit declines to review anti-gay T-shirt case after panel focused on unusual aspect of student-speech ruling in Tinker v. Des Moines. 08.09.06

Court vacates 9th Circuit ruling against anti-gay T-shirt

By Tony Mauro In closely watched student-speech case, justices leave school policy in place but open to further litigation. 03.06.07

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