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Conn. High School Allows Student To Wear Anti-Gay T-Shirt

Seth Groody Wore Shirt To School On LGBT Day Of Awareness
Anti-Gay T-Shirt (Handout/The Groody Family)

Anti-Gay T-Shirt (Handout/The Groody Family)

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WOLCOTT, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Officials in a Connecticut school district have backed down in a fight over free speech rights, allowing a student to wear a T-shirt bearing an anti-gay message.

The lawyer for the school district this month wrote to the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, saying Wolcott High School student Seth Groody may wear the T-shirt, which bears a slash mark through a rainbow. The other side showed a male and female stick figure holding hands above the message “Excessive Speech Day,” the ACLU of Connecticut said.

The ACLU said Groody wore the shirt April 20, which was designated as a day of awareness of harassment toward gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Groody complied with an order from a school administrator that he remove his shirt and replace it with one depicting a Wolcott High School symbol, the ACLU said.

Sandra Staub, legal director of the ACLU of Connecticut, said the district’s reversal teaches students that the First Amendment “is not merely a theoretical discussion topic but a real and vital guarantee” of free speech rights.

The ACLU prepared a lawsuit to be filed in federal court demanding that the school district be stopped from enforcing its T-shirt ban and that no disciplinary measures be taken against Groody.

Without elaborating, school lawyer Christine Chinni wrote to the ACLU on Feb. 14, saying Groody may wear the T-shirt. She did not return a call seeking comment.

Edward Groody, Seth’s father, referred questions to the ACLU.

The ACLU disagrees “very strongly” with Seth’s views on gay rights, but its opinion has no bearing on his right to express those views, Staub said.

Do you agree with the school’s decision? Let us know below.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)