MA boy asks court for freedom to wear 'There are only two genders' T-shirt to school
ADF attorneys available for media interviews following hearing Wednesday
WHO: Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys
WHAT: Available for media interviews following oral arguments in L.M. v. Town of Middleborough
WHEN: Immediately following hearing, which begins at 9:30 a.m. EDT, Wed., May 31
WHERE: U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, 1 Courthouse Way, Courtroom 9, 3rd floor, Boston. To schedule an interview, contact ADF Media Relations Manager Ellie Wittman at (202) 503-7984.
BOSTON – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing a middle-school student who was forbidden to wear a T-shirt to school that reads “There are only two genders” will be available for media interviews Wednesday following oral arguments at the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in Boston.
Attorneys with ADF and Massachusetts Family Institute filed a lawsuit earlier this month on behalf of 7th grader Liam Morrison. Morrison attends Nichols Middle School in Middleborough. In March, he wore the shirt to school to peacefully share his belief, informed by his scientific understanding of biology, that there are only two sexes, male and female, and that a person’s gender—their status as a boy or girl, woman or man—is inextricably tied to sex. The principal of the school, along with a school counselor, pulled Morrison out of class and ordered him to remove his shirt. After Morrison politely declined, school officials said that he must remove the shirt to return to class. As a result, Morrison left school and missed the rest of his classes that day.
“This isn’t about a T-shirt; this is about a public school telling a 7th grader that he isn’t allowed to hold a view that differs from the school’s preferred orthodoxy,” said ADF Legal Counsel Logan Spena, who will be arguing before the court on behalf of Morrison. “Public school officials can’t censor Liam’s speech by forcing him to remove a shirt that states a scientific fact. Doing so is a gross violation of the First Amendment that we’re urging the court to rectify.”
In the case, L.M. v. Town of Middleborough, ADF attorneys explain that Middleborough school officials have adopted one particular view on the subject of sex and gender: that a person’s subjective identity determines whether a person is male or female, not a person’s sex. They have expressed this view through their own speech; instituted annual, school-wide events celebrating their view; and encouraged students to engage in their own speech on this subject—so long as the students express the school’s favored viewpoint. School officials have also created and implemented a speech policy which they admit permits students to express viewpoints supporting the officials’ view of gender identity but forbids students from expressing a contrary view.
Middleborough officials allow students to convey a multitude of messages on their clothing yet prohibited Morrison from wearing his “There are only two genders” shirt because they said their dress code prohibits messages on clothing that “state, imply, or depict hate speech or imagery that target groups based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious affiliation, or any other classification.” Morrison’s shirt caused no disruptions at school when school officials demanded he remove it.
School officials’ censorship of Morrison’s message, and the speech policy and practice on which that censorship was based, violate the First and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
- Pronunciation guide: Spena (SPEE’-nuh)
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.
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