Target: Celina High School Assistant Principal Phil Metz
Goal: Ensure freedom of speech for students
Recently, two students at Celina High School in Celinas, Ohio wore T-shirts that read “Lesbian 1” and “Lesbian 2,” in celebration of “Twin Day.” The students were forced to remove the shirts. In response, some 20 students went to school the following Tuesday wearing home-made T-shirts with slogans such as “I Support…[Rainbow] Express Yourself” and “Straight But Supportive” in solidarity with the two students.
Assistant Principal Phil Metz forced the students to remove the T-shirts because they were “political” and threatened those who would not remove them with suspension. The school’s Superintendent Jesse Steiner defended the disciplinary action due to the potential for the T-shirts to be a “disruption of the educational process.”
ACLU Ohio has denounced this as an attempt to curtail free speech that the administrators in the conservative district don’t agree with. Erick Warner, A Celina High School student, points to the countless other forms of political expression that are tolerated at the school. These include “Students for Life” anti-choice T-shirts that show pictures of fetuses as well as shirts that call President Obama a socialist. The school has also hosted a Romney campaign event at which Paul Ryan spoke.
These students have done nothing wrong. They were exercising their first amendment right to free speech and it just happened that the administration of their school did not approve of the content of their message. The Supreme Court has ruled that “state-operated schools may not be enclaves of totalitarianism” and that students are entitled to free speech so long as it does not “interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline at the school.” T-shirts that sport gay-supportive slogans in no way interfere with such a requirement.
Support these students’ right to free speech. Sign this petition and tell Celina High School Assistant Principal Phil Metz to stop restricting free speech amongst students.
Dear Assistant Principal Phil Metz,
I am writing this letter to denounce your decision to discipline a group of students for wearing T-shirts featuring gay-supportive slogans. Your action was unconstitutional and deprived those students of their right to free expression. These T-shirts are in no way disruptive to the educational environment of a high school and the only reason I can see for your choice of action is that the messages expressed by the students opposed your own as well as that of your administration.
Another student of your school noted that other T-shirts with anti-choice and anti-Obama messages are allowed to be worn without the wearer facing disciplinary action. This is hypocritical. Your students deserve to be treated equally and to have the same right of free speech. Please reconsider your decision to prohibit your students from expressing their beliefs.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Thinkprogress.org