Student Sent Home for ‘I Heart Lady Gay Gay’ T-Shirt

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Another free speech battle has begun in White House, Tennessee, after Cole Goforth, a 15-year-old student at Greenbrier High School, was sent home for wearing a t-shirt that said "I 'heart' Lady Gay Gay" which, of course, refers to Lady Gaga.

Goforth  6 News reports: "Administrators told him to go home and change because the shirt 'was going to cause disruption in the school,' Goforth said.
His mother said the school is violating her son's free speech rights. Administrators have not sent home students who wear religious shirts and those bearing the rebel flag, she said.
Julie Gordon said her son has worn shirts that say 'gay' to school in the past with no problems and feels the conflict is less about the shirt and more about her son's look and orientation.
'I think they are singling him out, I really do, and they've made statements that if he wore this in California, he'd fit in just fine,' she said.
The Robertson County School Board dress code does not specifically ban shirts with the word 'gay.' But it does state that each principal can interpret the dress code and take action if a student's dress causes a disruption."

Said Goforth, who is openly gay: "I just think my sexuality isn't widely accepted around here, so of course they are going to single me out."

Video report here.

Goforth photo from his Twitter page.

Comments

  1. Matt says

    Stand strong, Cole!
    Continue to proudly be who you are and not let others dictate who and what you should be. And, Kudos to your supportive mother!

  2. says

    Bravo Cole. Takes guts to be who you want to be in high school, and I’m guessing if you want to be a loud and proud gay kid in TN that requires balls of steel. Good for you kid.

  3. Jason says

    This is not a freedom of speech issue as you do not have freedom of speech in High School. The school is fully within their rights to limit the speech and type of clothing a student wears. Generally if it causes a distraction or disrupts the classroom I am in favor of limiting it. I am rather conservative on this and believe in school uniforms.

  4. Gregoire says

    Actually Coco, Jason is right. High school newspapers do not have the same freedoms as regular newspapers, and the same goes for other media expressions, including slogans on shirts.

    The school is being reactionary and homophobic, but they’re in their rights to behave this way, unfortunately.

  5. Disgusted American says

    well Im all for Uniforms..BUT, I agree with this kids mom….if other kids can wear Confederate flags, and Jesus T-shirts….he should be allowed to express/represent himself. Good for him standing up to these Rednecks..and having a Supportive Mom!

  6. bobbyjoe says

    @ Jason and Gregoire:

    You’re missing the point. If the school is allowing some controversial material: waving rebel flags and certain religious views in other student’s faces, while arbitrarily disallowing other viewpoints, then the school isn’t within its rights. If I’m reading this correctly, it’s a public, not a private, school.

    If the school was suggesting school uniforms for everyone, you’d have a different issue, and you’d likely be right in it being their decision. But schools aren’t allowed to promote certain religious, political, and social viewpoints while disallowing others. By picking and choosing, particularly with something as banal as “Lady Gay Gay,” they’re placing themselves on much shakier legal ground, even within the more limited rights of high school.

    A better comparison would be what’s happened with gay-straight alliance clubs, where the courts have generally told schools that if they’re going to promote bible clubs and the like, they have to allow clubs like the gay-straight alliance. Some schools chose not to have any clubs rather than follow through with that, but they had to make that decision; same thing here, I’d imagine; they could decide not to allow any potentially objectionable T-shirts, but they can’t pick and choose.

  7. jamal49 says

    Unfortunately (and thanks to one of the first rulings by the Supreme Court under Roberts), the high school can censor anything it wants. The Supreme Court ruled that high school students have limited rights of free speech, but only if it occurs on school time (including field trips) or school property.

    And, why does everybody keep up this “I (Heart)….? It’s supposed to be I LOVE…. as in the venerable I LOVE NY campaign (substitute “LOVE” for a red heart. Ever since the film “I LOVE Huckabees” (which everyone called “I (HEART) Huckabees”), it’s never been the same.

    Thank you for letting me rant. Now, I’ll take my meds and go to bed.

  8. Rin says

    I think anyone who wears a Lady Caca shirt should be kicked out of school. Now, if they kick him out for a I *heart* Johnny Weir t-shirt then there’s gonna be problems.

    Love the kid’s style, tho…

  9. says

    I am a fan of uniforms as well. However, as a Black man I hate the Rebel flag. I don’t think it’s my right to stop anyone else from wearing it, but, if you can wear that, why can’t I wear I heart whatever the fuck I want?

    Cool mom btw!

  10. Gio says

    Said Goforth, who is openly gay: “I just think my sexuality isn’t widely accepted around here, so of course they are going to single me out…because I’m the only gay in the village!”

  11. Dave says

    The standard for clothing is not whether it is fair or controversial, but whether it is disruptive. In TN, it’s not terribly likely that a significant uproar will occur because of a confederate flag shirt (unless the school has a significant or at least vocal African American population). His shirt is likely to cause a fuss and is not a religious artifact, so the school was within its rights to require him to change.

  12. whiskers says

    It is as simple as SOME people do things knowing they are going against the policy just to cry discrimination. If Mom had read the school handbook, she probably wouldn’t have stopped him from wearing a shirt like this, anyway, because how then could she or Cole get media attention?? That’s all they are really after…what a croc. And if you live in White House, how you are at Greenbrier? Blue Devils didn’t accept you, either?

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