Columbus - Lambda Legal, the national legal organization that defends the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, filed suit today in a Federal District Court in Cincinnati. The case was filed on behalf of Maverick Couch, an openly gay junior.
He was threatened with suspension if he wears a T-shirt bearing the message “Jesus Is Not a Homophobe.”
Lambda Legal alleges that the Waynesville School District violated the First Amendment and well-settled legal precedent supporting students’ free speech. “I’ve been bullied and called names, I wanted to wear the T-shirt to encourage respect for all students, gay or straight,” says Maverick Couch. “I wish my school would help me create an accepting environment for LGBT kids, not single me out for punishment."
“Schools should be in the business of educating students about First Amendment freedoms, not trampling on their right to express themselves,” says Christopher Clark, Senior Staff Attorney for Lambda Legal. “The school has not offered – and cannot offer – any legitimate reason for threatening Maverick with disciplinary action. They have singled out an intelligent, respectful student and tried to shame him just because he’s gay.”
Ed Mullen, Executive Director of Equality Ohio, says: “Bullying on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is a serious problem in Ohio. Denying students the right to demonstrate support for LGBT students perpetuates the notion that schools should not talk about LGBT bullying. We strongly support the right of students to express their support for the day of silence and hope that school administrators will also speak out in support of LGBT youth in their schools.”
For more information, please visit www.lambdalegal.com.