Alabama | Censorship | Education | News

AL School Allows 'Gay? Fine By Me' T-Shirt After Lawsuit Threat

Hoover High School in Alabama has decided it will allow a student to wear a T-shirt that says "Gay? Fine By Me" after the Southern Poverty Law Center threatened to file a federal lawsuit on behalf of the student yesterday.

Finebyme After releasing a statement defending the school's ban, Principal Don Hulin later changed course, The Birmingham News reports:

Later in the afternoon, Hulin issued an "updated statement" that said basically the same thing but with an addendum:
"Our dress code at Hoover High School is designed to facilitate the learning environment that is so important to our school.

The T-shirt at issue has not caused a substantial disruption and the student will be allowed to wear it," the statement said. "Our focus has been and will be on the learning environment at Hoover High School."

Hoover schools spokesman Jason Gaston said school officials declined to comment further on the decision.

Sara Couvillon, the student at the center of the censorship, released a statement through the SPLC:

ā€œIā€™m very relieved and I feel like this is a major victory for the LGBT community in Alabama. This was not just about me ā€“ it was about encouraging people to be brave in standing up for themselves and standing up for their rights.ā€

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Comments

  1. How long before some OTHER students start wearing "Gay? Not fine by me" or worse? And the school will have to allow them as well. I can understand schools wanting to avoid political issues and controversy because the kids are there for learning.

    Posted by: Jim | Sep 1, 2011 8:51:16 AM


  2. JIM, so you agree that the famous "love see no colour" t-shirts should've be banned because it would entice white supremacist students to then wear shirts with "love is not colour blind, thank god"

    You mental Americans and your idea of free speech is baffling. Apparently the idea of right and wrong doesn't exist in your societal make up because it breaks your goddamn obsession with free speech.

    Nuts.

    Posted by: Rowan | Sep 1, 2011 9:06:35 AM


  3. Brave girl! She stuck to her guns and Hoover HS backed down. Alabama is always one of the last states to catch up with the others, but eventually it gets there.

    Posted by: Kelly in Atlantic City | Sep 1, 2011 10:09:19 AM


  4. @ JIM: do we not teach politics and civics in schools? Use the t-shirt as a great way to encourage student interest in these subjects.

    Gay issues are part of the American polity and its history and should be taught as such.

    Posted by: David R. | Sep 1, 2011 11:28:43 AM


  5. Sara is a lovely girl who's already done more good in her life than most people three times her age. Good for her and thank you SPLC.

    As to free speech, yes, it does mean that somebody can wear a shirt with a differing message -- and welcome to America. It's sad that some non-Americans still just don't get free speech and that they're willing to compromise their own freedom just to insure that somebody else's is impaired. That's so obviously wrong it's mind-boggling.

    It's an extraordinarily weak country that can't withstand the free exchange of ideas. I'd love to go through a day free of hate speech, but I love more going through the day knowing that I'm free to say what I want without anyone else dictating to me that I can't based on what they believe is right and wrong.

    Free speech, of course, is a perfect expression of what's right -- which is that nobody gets to silence anyone else because they think they're wrong.

    Posted by: ohplease | Sep 1, 2011 11:28:44 AM


  6. Thank you, Sara! You're great!

    Posted by: Glenn I | Sep 1, 2011 1:08:23 PM


  7. ohplease..

    Seems you dont understand the non-americans position on free speech. Its not about banning people from having free speech, its about preventing hateful speech.

    You are free to say anything you like, if its positive and constructive and not likely deliberately cause severe offense. That means the counter to that T-Shirt is Straight? Fine by me.

    The result of this is that Europe has a largely a much more progressive society than the US. Ironically isnt that what the original settlers wanted the US to be? Your unedited free speech does not make you more free. Quite the reverse.

    Posted by: Rovex | Sep 1, 2011 1:16:32 PM


  8. I have a green one and I wear it proudly and weekly in the big town of Spartanburg SC. Plus it's just so darn comfortable..... Good for you Sara!

    Posted by: Greygurl | Sep 1, 2011 2:15:32 PM


  9. Au contraire, Rovex, I understand the non-American position perfectly and I stand by what I wrote.

    Stifling what someone somewhere has decided is hate speech does not free you. Quite the reverse. Nobody is free when decisions about the very words they can utter are made for them. This is self-evident and how it cannot be understood by non-Americans remains a mystery to me.

    None of us are free until all of us are free, even -- if not especially -- the people we don't like.

    Of course, Europe is infinitely more progressive than the States in many ways, but to attribute that to one of the more regressive policies there is a mistake. Europe is more progressive in spite of the backwards thinking regarding the freedom of speech, not because of it.

    You do not live in a utopia free of hate simply because everyone in that "utopia" is not free to express it, rather you just don't know where that hate is hiding. In the States, we prefer our enemies to be unfettered so that constructive change can have the opportunity to arise by consensus, not fiat.

    And it is, by definition, weak to not be able to withstand something as slight as social offense. In the States, apparently, we're made of stronger stuff.

    Posted by: ohplease | Sep 1, 2011 3:08:41 PM


  10. OHPLEASE=Another self-righteous american with his head up his ass.

    Posted by: Rocky | Sep 1, 2011 5:15:49 PM


  11. I wonder if the ACLU would stand up for this girl if the shirt read "CHRISTIAN? FINE BY ME!" ?? I have serious doubts about that....

    Posted by: Christian in America | Sep 1, 2011 5:27:44 PM


  12. The big problem in Alabama is the profusion of uniform codes that ban ALL T-shirts and ALL logos/messages on tops

    Posted by: GARY KLAHR | Sep 1, 2011 6:15:33 PM


  13. The message on the shirt has no negative connotation, and in fact it's a positive statement of agreement and acquiescence. People immediately equating this message to other negative messages, like the first commenter JIM here, are not really thinking about this issue at all.

    People need to stop being so obsessed about what other people are doing that they don't like and get on with their own lives.

    Posted by: Guggo | Sep 2, 2011 1:40:15 AM


  14. What "Christian in America" doesn't seem to find important before spouting off against the ACLU is that the organization has a long and proud history of defending religions from persecution. They DEFEND your civil rights and the civil rights of all Americans. Do your homework, oh clueless one, before demonstrably revealing how ignorant you are in your astonishing and short-sighted hate against American Civil Liberties.

    Where can I get myself a t-shirt like the one shown on that brave girl?

    Posted by: Adrian Kimberly | Sep 2, 2011 8:45:07 AM


  15. The SPLC tends to be somewhat selective when it comes to fighting for gay rights.

    The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have stated publicly for decades that gay men "are not moral enough" to be Scout leaders and refuse to hire openly gay men as such.

    Despite this blatant discrimination, the fact that the BSA receives public funding AND the fact that the very core business of the BSA is to mold the minds and characters of millions of American boys, the BSA somehow fails to meet the SPLC's scrupulous "anti-gay hate group" threshold. Why?

    It's quite simple. Many of the SPLC's mostly elderly donors were Scouts, or the parents/grandparents of Scouts, and somehow linking the almighty donors to a "hate group" is bad for business.

    http://wp.me/pCLYZ-1c

    "Fighting hate" is all well and good, until it cuts into the bottom line.

    Posted by: Richard Keefe | Sep 5, 2011 3:20:22 PM


  16. when you hit them in the pocketbook their hearts and minds will follow.

    BTW even in tiny Ireland, About 2 billion in damages has been paid to victims of the endless hidden molestation of children by the church.

    And who did Pope RATZInger UNexcommunicate about 2 yra ago - a holocaust denier. obviously he hasnt forgotten the lessons of his early life, being born in 1928 in Germany,, and serving in the Nazi youth corp.

    Posted by: billy Wingart | Sep 9, 2011 1:08:27 AM


  17. Sorry the link re the holocaust denier, a bishop williamson, is :

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article5585738.ece

    re pope welcoming back holocaust denier Williamson.

    Posted by: billy Wingart | Sep 9, 2011 1:09:46 AM


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