MO Teen Booted From School Over Gay Equality Shirt
A Missouri teen is fighting back against administrators after he was told to leave school for wearing a T-shirt that he says was supportive of equal rights.
Jesse Irey attends Liberty High School, just outside of Kansas City. When the self-proclaimed bisexual teen wore a T-shirt to school that read, “Queer plus Straight, Equal,” he said he was told by an assistant principal that the word “Queer” was offensive and that he had to remove the t-shirt.
IREY: “I said no. I said it’s an equality shirt. The word queer is not in a negative way. I said, ‘It’s not distracting to anybody. It wasn’t distracting until the teacher made it distracting.’”
And because he refused to take the tee off, school officials sent him home.
Irey claims he has been harassed by students and teachers since coming out as bisexual. So now, he’s fighting back, saying that the school district is being hypocritical of their “hate free” policy.
The Liberty School District released this statement, saying the word queer is “aligned with hate-driven remarks resulting in hostile physical reactions that are detrimental to a safe learning environment.” But the district claims it “embraces and promotes acceptance and tolerance.”
Wick Thomas is with the group ‘Empowering Queer Activists and Leaders’ or EQUAL, which created the now controversial t-shirt. He says “a lot of people, especially in the Midwest have a very hard time getting past that historical use of the word even though there are so many young people now who are now identifying as queer as a legitimate sexual identity.”
Irey says he refuses to hide his sexuality and still defends the shirt and the word “queer” on it.
The ACLU is now involved and wants the school to stand behind its policy because the civil rights group claims the school’s censorship is illegal.
–Mitch Weber in Kansas City