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    Florida high school bans rainbow T-shirts, belts and stickers

    Date: 02.03.08 | by Judge Tom.

    Heather Gillman is a junior at Ponce de Leon High School in Florida. Her cousin attends the same school and was suspended for five days for supporting gay rights. Heather wore a rainbow belt and handmade shirt that said “I Support Gay Rights.” She decided to challenge the school’s policy against non-violent freedom of expression. 

    Ponce

    Heather at school in Florida

    The school district determined that wearing rainbow symbols on clothing, rainbow stickers, or writing pro-gay rights messages on themselves could reasonably disrupt the school environment. The following messages were proclaimed off limits:

    “I Support My Gay Friends”

    “Equal, Not Special Rights”

    “Gay? Fine By Me”

    “Gay Pride”

    “God Loves Me Just the Way I Am”

    In February, 2008, Heather and her mother sued the school district and principal for violating her free speech rights. It’s not a matter of money – they asked for $1.00 in damages, and a statement from the school that the students’ rights were violated.

    In May, 2008, the federal court ruled Heather’s favor, ordering the school not to enforce the ban. For more about gay rights and teens, see:  http://askthejudge.info/rights-for-gay-lesbian-bisexual-teenagers/94/

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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