Battle on Gay Pride Shirts Leads to Suit Against School
By TAMAR LEWIN
The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit yesterday against a Missouri high school that twice admonished a gay student for wearing T-shirts bearing gay pride messages. The suit charges that the school violated the youth's constitutional right to free expression.
By the account of the civil liberties union, the student, Brad Mathewson, a 16-year-old junior, was sent to the principal's office at Webb City High School on Oct. 20 for wearing a T-shirt that he said came from the Gay-Straight Alliance at a school he previously attended, in Fayetteville, Ark. The shirt bore a pink triangle and the words "Make a Difference!"
Mr. Mathewson, the A.C.L.U. said, was told to turn the shirt inside out or go home and change. Instead he traded shirts with a friend, who wore the gay pride shirt the rest of the day without incident.
A week later, Mr. Mathewson was again admonished for wearing a gay pride T-shirt, this one featuring a rainbow and the inscription "I'm gay and I'm proud." Told once more to turn the shirt instead out or leave, he chose to go home and was eventually ordered not to return to school wearing clothing supporting gay rights.