In what can only be called a blatant attack on our First Amendment, a federal judge Tuesday upheld a Naperville high school’s decision to ban “Be Happy, Not Gay” T-shirts. The lawsuit derives from a student who last year was told she could not wear the T-shirt the day after the “Day of Silence”.

The “Day of Silence” “encourages students to show visible support for homosexual lifestyle by refusing to speak during the school day, while conveying written messages in the form of T-shirts, buttons, and stickers, all of which promote homosexual behavior.” The following day Heidi Zamecnik wore the T-Shirt reading “Be Happy, Not Gay”. The suit claims Dean of Students Bryan Wells told Zamecnik the shirt offended others and she had to remove it or go home. Her mother, Linda Zamecnik, was called when she refused.

At issue in this case is what constitutes offensive language, and to what degree does the school system have a right to censor such language. In 1969 the Supreme Court ruled students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

Based on the Supreme Courts ruling in 1969, it is clear that Heidi Zamecnik does indeed have a constitutionally protected right to wear a t-shirt that says “Be happy, not gay”. By allowing students to wear pro-homosexual shirts one day, while denying students to wear anti homosexual shirts the following day, the school is censoring speech based on its disagreement with the message.

The school system will argue the t-shirt is offensive to some students and therefore against school policy. However there is another side to that argument, one which very rarely will be brought up in a court of law. There are those who find pro-homosexuality t-shirts and buttons to be offensive as well.
Constitutionally Correct had this to say:

Naperville High School therefore can suppress students who express a viewpoint different than the school’s propaganda on exactly the same topic. The court reached this conclusion even though the Supreme Court has found viewpoint discrimination to be an especially egregious violation of free speech rights. The very purpose of the First Amendment is to protect unpopular viewpoints. I am not saying that dissent immunizes speech if it is unprotected for some other reason, such as if it is obscene or invites fisticuffs. But if a high school can crush speech just because it disagrees, then there is no meaning to the platitude that high school students possess some, even limited, First Amendment rights. All they possess is the “right” to spout something bland, canned, or forced on demand.

School systems throughout this country have gone out of their way to promote homosexuality to children as being a normal and accepted way of life. They do this in the name of “tolerance” and “equality”, arguing it is necessary to teach young children pro-homosexual ideas in order to prevent them from being prejudiced to homosexuals as they grow older.

If our school system truly wishes to teach our children tolerance, they must realize it is a two way street. By allowing one side to express their views while preventing the other side from doing the same, the school is not teaching tolerance, it is teaching censorship.

We now have a federal court sanctioning that censorship. U.S. District Judge William Hart declared because the district offered alternatives, it was not violating the students’ freedom of expression. The alternatives he was referring to was a shirt saying “Be Happy, Be Straight”. Unfortunately both the school and Judge Hart fail to see the words “Be Happy, Not Gay” were chosen implicitly because of their meanings… Gay also means happy.

Regardless of the alternatives offered, it is a violation of the First Amendment nonetheless.

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