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Illinois School Refuses to Discipline Students Who Wear 'Straight Pride' T-shirts During Gay Bullying Prevention Week

Three students at St. Charles North High School in suburban Chicago decided to wear "Straight Pride" T-shirts to school during the school's "ally week" on Monday. "Ally week" is meant to raise awareness about anti-gay bullying.

The St. Charles Republican reports: Straightpride2

Michael Fairbanks, president of the St. Charles East Gay-Straight Alliance, sent out an e-mail to the media last night saying a group of St. Charles North boys came to school yesterday with shirts that read “STRAIGHT PRIDE” on the front and “If a man lay with a male as those who lay with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination and shall surely be put to DEATH,” a Bible verse from Leviticus 20:13.

“Students were greatly offended,” Fairbanks said in the e-mail. “Fellow classmates are saying gay people should be put to death because they are gay. Who wouldn’t be offended?”

St. Charles Community Unit School District 303 spokesman Jim Blaney said once the building administrators became aware of the shirts, the three students wearing them were called into the deans’ office to discuss the matter. They were sent back to class and later were called back for a second discussion.

Blaney said the administration wanted to explain to students that they have a right to express their point of view, but they also wanted to make the students aware that their message could be seen as hurtful by other students.

Fairbanks said in his e-mail that multiple codes of the student handbook were violated, including a passage stating that students should not disrupt the educational process or interfere with a positive learning and teaching environment through clothing.

According to the Kane County Chronicle, the students were not punished:

District 303 spokesman Jim Blaney said three students showed up Monday at St. Charles North wearing shirts that said “Straight Pride” on the front and quoting a Biblical verse from Leviticus on the back of the shirt referencing death as the punishment for homosexual behavior.

The students were initially called into their deans’ offices after the shirts created tension among the other students, Blaney said. There was then a second discussion with the students.

“The students said their intent was not to intimidate any one or cause physical harm,” Blaney said. “Their intention was to show their pride in being straight.”

The school reportedly wanted to use the incident as a "teachable moment" for freedom of expression. Seriously? During "ally week"? I'm sure that all the bullied gay and lesbian teens in that school district feel safe now.

Blaney and St. Charles better hope they don't have a gay suicide on their hands.

Stcharles Said Senior Steven Boi, one of the students who wore a "straight pride" t-shirt, to the Daily Herald:

"The reason why we wore the shirts was just to express our views. People have said Ally Week is for everyone, but after Monday it was clear that it was more designed for homosexual students. We wore our shirts on Tuesday to express our views that we're straight, and we have the right to express that. But my dean told me on Tuesday, because of the people who wore the other shirts on Monday, our shirts were considered disruptive to the learning environment. To me, Ally Week itself has been disruptive. Instead of learning in class, we have to sit there and talk about all this other stuff that's happening because of Ally Week...There is clearly a double standard here, and we're really upset about this. They said the reason we can't wear ‘Straight Pride' shirts is because they are disruptive. And I can understand how maybe some people were intimidated by the shirts with the Bible verse. But I don't understand how some students are able to wear ‘Gay Pride' shirts while we can't wear shirts that just say ‘Straight Pride.' We wanted to wear them because we wanted to raise the fact that we were getting ripped on for supporting our straight sexuality, and also as a way to prove that our school has double standards.”

The Daily Herald reports that tensions are still rising at the school:

"Word is spreading that a larger showing of students may wear 'Straight Pride' or all-black shirts in protest of the district's decision to ask student not to wear anything containing those words. And when Friday comes, the Illinois chapter of the ACLU will be watching."

*Note: photo above is from a Michigan Tea Party rally, and not a student at the school.

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Comments

  1. I thank my parents everyday for teaching me the evils of religion. It really is the root of all evil.

    Posted by: Garyghost | Nov 11, 2010 12:50:19 PM


  2. Oh okay, so then I guess next week I'll be allowed to wear a t-shirt that says "Gay Pride" on the front and "All straight people should be shot DEAD" on the back? Would that be "fair and balanced"?

    Posted by: Jollysocks | Nov 11, 2010 12:55:31 PM


  3. Someone should seriously print t-shirts with the rest of the verses from Leviticus because there's some crazy batshit laws in there that I'm sure those Christians want nothing to do with BUT when it comes to who you SHOULD lay with, they're all over that.

    Also, what about separation of church and state, how is a bible verse allowed to be promoted at school. If it just said straight pride, kudos for the straight person wearing it but the bible verse takes it to another level.

    Posted by: Eddy | Nov 11, 2010 12:55:46 PM


  4. @RatBastard

    Since you HAVE dragged race into it.

    How much do you want to bet these homophobic free speech crusaders are white?

    You see, black people - especially black males - don't get this sort of consideration from the powers that be. Quaint little discussions about it in the principal's office over a cup of coffee. A legion of "libertarian" supporters in the media making hay about protecting their constitutional right to be assholes. The ACLU monitoring the situation to ensure that the the poor, oppressed bigots are respected.

    That's not how they deal with black students making death threats.

    Posted by: John | Nov 11, 2010 1:04:19 PM


  5. If there are any truly "Christian" kids at that school, they might want to find some supportive New Testament verses about casting the first stone and love one another as yourself--verses that replaced the nonsensical rantings of the desert mystics that are an appropriate support for their gay classmates. Put those on a tee shirt instead of hate messages.

    Posted by: candideinncc | Nov 11, 2010 1:15:54 PM


  6. So death threats are protected speech now? Stay classy guys. This is one of the biggest reasons why I support school uniforms.

    Posted by: Stephen | Nov 11, 2010 1:19:22 PM


  7. I agree with this:

    "To me, Ally Week itself has been disruptive. Instead of learning in class, we have to sit there and talk about all this other stuff that's happening because of Ally Week...There is clearly a double standard here, and we're really upset about this"

    Of course, they undercut all that with the back of the shirt.

    Posted by: Henry Holland | Nov 11, 2010 1:23:25 PM


  8. The apologist are coming out the woodwork. But this site has been referenced all over because of this story so yeah...more than a few concern trolls here.

    If you have a problem with Ally Week, you should have a problem with Black History Month, Gay Pride, and fucking Breast Cancer Awareness.

    Think about it, peons.

    Posted by: Cory | Nov 11, 2010 1:36:32 PM


  9. Yeah way to show that something simple like pride and support can be twisted.

    You kids aren't showing pride, your pouting because people aren't paying enough attention to YOU.

    When I was in HS they tried this with Black History month, the "Where is my White History Month?" argument was easily ripped apart as "Lacking ANY need other than "equality" as only based on the supposition of equality between the two groups."

    So hey, YOU DON'T NEED STRAIGHT PRIDE IF IT'S ONLY TO SHOW THAT STRAIGHTS AND GAYS ARE EQUAL, IF THEY WERE EQUAL WE WOULDN'T NEED THE GAY AWARENESS WEEK.

    Posted by: Fenrox | Nov 11, 2010 1:46:14 PM


  10. They're calling for gay people to be executed. I don't care if it says that in the Bible -- it's hate speech, plain and simple, and the school is under no obligation to allow speech that is specifically designed to make students feel unsafe.

    But if they have the right to wear their stupid T-shirts, then a bunch of students should go to school in T-shirts emblazoned with the following quote by H.L. Mencken:

    "It is often argued that religion is valuable because it makes men good, but even if this were true it would not be a proof that religion is true ... Santa Claus makes children good in precisely the same way, and yet no one would argue seriously that the fact proves his existence. The defense of religion is full of such logical imbecilities."

    Or this one:

    "We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart."

    Posted by: AJD | Nov 11, 2010 1:51:56 PM


  11. John,

    DON'T lecture me about race and racial 'issues'; you know next to NOTHING about my background, education, and life experiences. Please don't flatter yourself.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Nov 11, 2010 1:58:49 PM


  12. Straight pride? Fine by me. Weird that you'd be proud of that, since 90% of the population is straight as well. . .but okay.
    Invoking bronze age dictates from the Middle East which are misinterpreted to call for the temporal execution of gay people living today? Nuh'uh. Sorry. Hate speech ain't free speech, especially in a school. As we live in the 21st century CE, not the sixth century BCE, we now realize that putting people to death for anything other than, you know. . .MURDER is WRONG. Hello!
    Yes. Some things are in fact this simple.

    Posted by: dramaticartchild | Nov 11, 2010 2:39:12 PM


  13. See, it's like this: I wear a Gay Pride shirt and it's about PRIDE. I don't promote the killing of anyone, straight or gay.

    When a straight asshole wears a "straight pride" shirt and includes some out-of-context, hateful, vindictive quote from that execrable christian "bible", it's not about pride. It's about hatred and homophobia.

    Evangelical christians are dangerously close to stepping on that one last nerve I have left. My patience with that christian riff-raff scum is at the point that if I saw someone wearing one of the "straight pride" shirts, I'd probably rush them and beat the shit out of them.

    And enjoy every minute of it.

    Posted by: mike | Nov 11, 2010 3:00:15 PM


  14. Let them wear the damn t-shirts. It's good to know who the assholes are.

    Posted by: Houndentenor | Nov 11, 2010 3:17:44 PM


  15. Compared to the donors who wanted to keep their names hidden for fear of being labeled as bigots, these guys are out and proud. I wouldn't call it straight pride though. It's more like, "Bigot Pride."

    They should be parodied like the Tea Party. Better yet, someone should show up with "Straight Pride" shirts that are about God's unconditional love.

    Posted by: Adrian | Nov 11, 2010 3:22:48 PM


  16. I'm gonna wear a shirt that says just how much I hate religious people and the gays who think they are beter people for sticking up for them :-)

    Posted by: j. | Nov 11, 2010 3:35:53 PM


  17. I have a suggestion for more free speech: T shirts that say "Whoever quotes the bible at me shall be put to death."

    It's just free speech right..

    Posted by: beergoggles | Nov 11, 2010 3:39:36 PM


  18. A t-shirt advocating the death penalty for gays and lesbians is hardly the freedom of speech equivalent of an anti-gay bullying t-shirt. Would we even be having this discussion if the shirt called for the death penalty for Jews, or blacks? I doubt it.

    Posted by: Wilkby | Nov 11, 2010 3:40:57 PM


  19. In response to the person who commented about white pride during black history month, I have seen it happen. No one got sent home, no violence. There were a couple of whiney parents, but they were reminded about free speech rights.

    I would not be concerned if it was like the one in the 2001 case. The Leviticus quote really bothers me.

    Posted by: Desert Rat | Nov 11, 2010 4:05:39 PM


  20. Clearly the adults involved here are idiots. What we hope happens here is that the other kids in school might shame them because of this. Peer pressure can be a powerful tool at that age. Honestly, as a young teen I used to say "that's so gay" a lot, until one day a friend of mine turned to me and said, "Stop saying that sh*t. It's rude and offensive. My brother is gay and he's awesome and you're pissing me off." From that day on, the lesson was learned...

    Posted by: RDUB | Nov 11, 2010 5:09:32 PM


  21. Simple: if students are permitted to wear T-shirts advocating gay pride, then straight students can wear straight pride T-shirts. If the administration is going to try to enforce restrictions on speech, it needs to be content neutral.

    Posted by: William M. Andrews | Nov 11, 2010 5:19:26 PM


  22. For a closer reading of Leviticus 20:13 by a gay author, see my blog post on Open Salon: http://open.salon.com/blog/davidjgreene/2010/07/29/marriage_equality_fairy_tale_number_2

    Posted by: David Greene | Nov 11, 2010 5:52:06 PM


  23. @RatBastard

    Actually, we know all about your background because you never cease to remind us of it. As if it were some sort of valid excuse for the constant race baiting.

    Posted by: John | Nov 11, 2010 5:55:02 PM


  24. Ah the classic logical fallacy of privileged individuals equating the celebration of their privilege and power to the empowerment of the oppressed...

    So typical...

    Posted by: Luminum | Nov 11, 2010 10:15:01 PM


  25. "If the administration is going to try to enforce restrictions on speech, it needs to be content neutral."

    That's nonsense, William M. Andrews. Schools can and do ban certain types of messages, sometimes because of a ban on logos ("Drink Budweiser") or a ban on obscene words or messages. Death threats toward other students are definitely a reasonable restriction.
    For similar reasons, a student is allowed to freely express his opinions to a teacher in an appropriate and respectful way at an appropriate time, but can be expelled for yelling "F**k you, a**hole" in the middle of a test or responding to a homework assignment with a death threat.

    I do wonder how quickly these students would have been expelled if they had warn shirts threatening to rape girls during women's history week or celebrated Kwaanzaa by wearing shirts threatening to kill black classmates.

    Posted by: GregV | Nov 11, 2010 11:15:36 PM


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