On last year’s Day of Silence, Ohio high school student Maverick Couch wore a t-shirt to school that said “Jesus Is Not A Homophobe,” but Waynesville High School Principal Randy Gebhardt ordered him to turn the shirt inside out.
When Maverick asked to wear the shirt again this past fall, Gebhardt threatened him with suspension. Lambda Legal sued on Maverick’s behalf, and has officially won the case, including $20,000 for damages, costs, and attorneys’ fees. Couch can now wear his T-shirt to school any day he chooses. The school district and principal agreed on May 21 to have a judgment entered against them.
Though Maverick is set to graduate this weekend, he ensures the freedom of expression is preserved for all students in Wayne Local Schools.
Thank you, Care2 activists! Over 26,000 of you signed our petition supporting Maverick Couch, and helped him to achieve this victory!
What is the Day of Silence?
In case you are wondering, the National Day of Silence, sponsored by GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is a day of action in which students across the country take a vow of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools. Through their activities students can speak out against harassment and organize for change in their schools and communities.
As a teacher, I have experienced this when students show me a note stating that they will not speak in class that day, as a sign of protest against LBGT harassment in schools. And I have admired these students for standing up for their convictions.
From Lambda Legal:
I just wanted to wear my shirt. The shirt is a statement of pride, and I hope other students like me know that they can be proud, too.
Lambda Legal Senior Staff Attorney Christopher Clark says:
We’re very happy for Maverick and all LGBT students in Ohio. If school officials had any doubt before, it’s clear now: First Amendment rights apply to all students on every day of the year, and efforts to silence LGBT youth will not go unchallenged.
Congratulations to Maverick Couch, and thank you, Care2 members!
Photo Credit: Care2