MA boy asks court to halt school's ban on 'There are only two genders' shirt
ADF attorneys available for media interviews following hearing Tuesday
WHO: Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys
WHAT: Available for media interviews following hearing in L.M. v. Town of Middleborough
WHEN: Immediately following hearing, which begins at 11:30 a.m. EDT, Tuesday, June 13
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 seventh-grade student who was forbidden to wear two T-shirts to school—one that reads “There are only two genders” and one that reads “There are censored genders”—will be available for media interviews Tuesday following a hearing in his case at the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in Boston. The hearing concerns a motion for preliminary injunction, in which ADF attorneys are requesting that the court prevent Nichols Middle School in Middleborough from prohibiting the student, Liam Morrison, from wearing his shirts to school while the case proceeds.
“This isn’t about a T-shirt; this is about a public school telling a seventh grader that he isn’t allowed to hold a view that differs from the school’s orthodoxy,” said ADF Legal Counsel Logan Spena, who will be arguing before the court on behalf of Morrison. “Public school officials can’t force Liam to remove a shirt that states his position when the school lets every other student wear clothing that speaks on the same issue. Their choice to double down and silence him when he tried to protest their censorship is a gross violation of the First Amendment that we’re urging the court to rectify.”
Attorneys with ADF and Massachusetts Family Institute filed a lawsuit last month on behalf of Morrison. In March, he wore the “There are only two genders” T-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.
After school officials censored his original message, Morrison wore a shirt that reads “There are censored genders” to protest the fact that only some messages about gender are allowed. As soon as Morrison arrived at school, his teacher instructed him to go to the principal’s office where he was told that he could not wear that shirt at school either.
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 schoolwide 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 admit that their policy permits students to express viewpoints supporting the officials’ view of gender but forbids students from expressing a different view.
ADF attorneys explain that school officials’ censorship of Morrison’s message, their decision to silence his speech protesting their censorship, and the speech policy and practice on which that censorship was based all violate the First and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
- Pronunciation guide: Spena (SPEE’-nuh)
The ADF Center for Academic Freedom is dedicated to protecting First Amendment and related freedoms for students and faculty so that everyone can freely participate in the marketplace of ideas without fear of government censorship.
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