T-shirt quote sparks debate at Lynn high school
LYNN, Mass. (WHDH) -- A Lynn English High School student was asked to cover up her T-shirt that read “All the cool girls are lesbians,” which sparked a heated debate at a school committee meeting last week.
"This shirt, as the letters show you, is deemed to be inappropriate and offensive," said Lynn Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy. "I felt as though the student made a very good point when she was saying that, 'I was just expressing myself.'"
The student wore the T-shirt in January, but the issue wasn’t resolved until last week when the mayor brought it up to the school committee.
The T-shirt’s saying ignited controversy at last week’s school committee meeting.
“My only issue was that it said, ‘All the cool kids are this,’ and I would have had the exact same problem if it had said, ‘All the cool kids are straight,’” said Richard Starbard, Lynn school committee member.
Starbard agreed with the vice principal at the high school who asked the student wearing the shirt to cover it up, and not wear it to school again.
“The policy’s explicit when it says, ‘nothing about alcohol, drugs, no cigarettes,’ or anything like that,” Starbard said. “But it doesn’t say anything about expressing your sexual orientation.”
However, the mayor disagreed with the school administrator's decision.
"He considered it disruptive, but I don't believe that the law would consider it disruptive," Mayor Flanagan said.
The student called it “personal expression” and wrote a letter to the school committee and mayor, disagreeing with the school’s actions.
The student now has the support of the ACLU.
“Her rights were violated. It is a law in Massachusetts that high school students have a right, a freedom of expression,” said one woman.
The school committee voted that from now on, all clothing issues will go to the central administration, even though two committee members wanted to handle it in the schools.
"I felt it would be best if whenever we have a situation that they call the central office so that they can get a legal opinion before they acted," Mayor Flanagan said.
“The principals in our school are well aware of the rights of the students and I think they handled the case presented appropriately,” said Patricia Capano, Lynn school committee vice chair.
The student wrote that she did not want to take further action and all sides agreed; she handled the issue extremely well.
“I really respect a high school student in this era to stand up for what she thinks is right,” said one woman.
“She was outstanding,” Capano said.
The school committee also voted in favor of a refresher course for school administrators on a student’s rights to freedom of expression.
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