Kudos to Montana educators are in order after a group of Kalispell high school students easily demonstrated they had a superior understanding of the U.S. Constitution than school administrators.
At issue is the attempt by Flathead High School school administrators to force a student to change her t-shirt saying, “Legalize Gay,” or go home. Her fellow students organized a protest. They got other students to wear t-shirts with the same “Legalize Gay” message. Other students scarily made their own message t-shirts.
Perhaps school administrators were afraid because the bosses at the Montana Republican party re-adopted an official position at their most recent platform convention in support of making gay people “illegal.” Why none of them were able to figure out that the Montana Supreme Court struck down laws that made it illegal to be gay in 1997 is unknown.
The school had tried to claim the shirts were the equivalent of “advertising pornography” and therefore that they had the right to ask the student to take off the shirt. I guess the school administrators didn’t realize that Constitutional rights apply to all American citizens–including students. As the ACLU reports:
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that students could wear black armbands to school in protest of the Vietnam War. “Schools,” wrote Justice Abe Fortas, “may not be enclaves of totalitarianism. Students and teachers do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of expression at the schoolhouse gates.”
More recently, a federal judge in Florida ruled in favor of students in a case very similar to the situation in Kalispell. In that case, the principal of Ponce de Leon High School testified that he believed clothing or stickers featuring rainbows would make students automatically picture gay people having sex, and banned the wearing of any clothing with rainbows on it or any other show of support for gay people.