Kudos to North Penn High School student Chris Schiano for standing up for his right to free expression. Chris was removed from classes on October 24, 2005 because he wore a shirt that displayed a picture of President Bush over the words “International Terrorist.”
Chris wore the shirt without incident through his three morning classes, but then a security guard in the lunchroom noticed the shirt and demanded that Chris remove it or turn it inside out to hide the message. When Chris refused to do either, he was taken to the administrative office, where he spent the rest of the day.
Lisa Wildman, Chris’s mother, later spoke to Principal Burton Hynes, who told her that students are not permitted to wear shirts that are “controversial” or “offensive.” Principal Hynes told Ms. Wildman that a shirt that praised the President would have been fine, that a shirt supportive of gay rights would have been discouraged but tolerated, but that Chris’s shirt was forbidden because it was “disrespectful to the President.” Chris and Lisa contacted the ACLU of Pennsylvania, which demanded that North Penn retract its ban on the shirt. After 10 days and a threat of litigation, the school finally backed down.
This shirt has gotten other students in trouble before (and other school districts who’ve tried to prevent students from wearing it). In 2003 a Dearborn Heights student was told he had to remove a version of the same shirt, but a federal judge ruled that the student had the right to wear it.
Entire press release here.