On the National Day of Silence, Chicago area high schooler Heidi Zamecnik just wanted to tell other students they should, “Be Happy, Not Gay,” so she wore a t-shirt saying as much. (“My Day of Silence” appeared on the front; the back sported the other phrase.) This was back in 2006 — and Neuqua Valley High School administrators forced her to take a marker and black out the “Not Gay” part. So she sued. And just won on appeal.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Heidi’s favor, saying the First Amendment gives her the right to express anti-gay sentiments in school. (She’s since graduated.) “
A school that permits advocacy of the rights of homosexual students cannot be allowed to stifle criticism of homosexuality,” the court’s ruling reads. “People in our society do not have a legal right to prevent criticism of their beliefs or their way of life.” Which means it’s time to start printing up all those “Be Happy, Not Latino” shirts, because hey, that’s cool!
As you might’ve expected, it was the Alliance Defence Fund who headed up Heidi’s lawsuit. It also handled the joint complaint from Alex Nuxoll, another Neuqua Valley High student at the time, who wanted to wear the same tee but was denied twice by a court when he sought an injunction to halt the school’s policy. The 7th Circuit ruling upholds a 2010 decision that ruled in Heidi and Alex’s favor.
Let’s take this baby to the Supreme Court!
Was the court right to uphold Heidi’s right to wear the shirt? Yes — if it’s true that her tee did not cause any interruptions in the regular activity of school. Which I find hard to believe, since this girl is walking around saying an entire class of people, uh, shouldn’t be that way. Should gay kids just sit behind her in class and … be quiet?
If anti-women, anti-black, anti-mental disability (and anti-Heidi) shirts can also be worn, then fine, let the kids express themselves. Because I just bought BigotedSchoolFashoins.com, and I want to make a killing.