A school district will change its dress code following a federal lawsuit filed after a student was reprimanded for wearing a ‘Nobody knows I’m a lesbian’ t-shirt.
16-year-old Taylor Victor is a student at Sierra Middle School in Manteca.
Two administrators at the Manteca Unified School District were sued by Victor’s mother, after her daughter was sent home for wearing the t-shirt, reports the LA Times.
A settlement has been reached, the ACLU, which represented the student, has announced.
Despite denying wrongdoing, the district and administrators agreed to change the dress code.
The updated dress code means students cannot be disciplined for wearing garments which supports their own or a classmate’s identity based on gender, race, sexual orientation, religion or other characteristics.
“Students continue to be supported in their right for self-expression in all of our high schools,” Manteca Unified School District said in a statement Wednesday.
“Our number one priority continues to be the ability to keep our kids safe physically and emotionally.”
Victor’s attorney Linnea Nelson said being a lesbian is “an important part” of her identity, and that she shouldn’t be “censored” by the school.
“Students don’t leave their rights to free speech at the schoolhouse gates,” Nelson went on.
“At the end of the day, the law on this is very clear, that public schools can’t censor the personal beliefs of students just because they think it might be controversial.”
The student said she wore the t-shirt ironically in August, as she was already out as a lesbian since a year before.
Writing for the ACLU, she said the t-shirt “made me laugh because pretty much everybody knows I’m a lesbian.”
After being sent to her vice principal’s office, she was eventually told to go home and change.
As well as Victor being allowed to wear her t-shirt, the school must also take “reasonable measures to protect [Taylor] from any known harassment or bullying by other students or any district employee”.
The district will also provide training to high school administrators on free speech of students, and will also pay the ACLU of California $63,000 in fees and costs.
The student wrote in her blog: “I’m very proud of who I am… That’s the whole reason I wore that shirt. And it’s the reason I’ll keep wearing it — because after months of fighting this censorship battle, we won.”