MIDDLEBOROUGH, Massachusetts (LifeSiteNews) — The family of a 12-year-old boy is preparing to sue his Massachusetts public school for violating his First Amendment rights by forbidding him from wearing a shirt that says “There are only two genders.”
Seventh-grader Liam Morrison recounted during an April 13 school committee meeting how two Nichols Middle School staff members removed him from gym class to tell him he needed to change his shirt in order to be allowed back in class.
“I was told that people were complaining about the words on my shirt, that my shirt was making some students feel unsafe. Yes, words on a shirt made people feel unsafe. They told me that I wasn’t in trouble, but it sure felt like I was,” he explained.
When he refused to change his shirt, the school called his father to have him take him home from school.
The Washington Stand columnist Joshua Arnold has remarked that Morrison was sent home from school for “what might be the silliest reason [ever]: wearing a shirt conveying factually accurate information.”
According to The Daily Wire, Middleborough Public Schools superintendent Carolyn Lyons said in an email that Liam violated the school dress code because the “content of Liam’s shirt targeted students of a protected class; namely in the area of gender identity.”
Liam objected during the school committee meeting that his t-shirt said “Nothing harmful, nothing threatening. Just a statement I believe to be a fact. I have been told that my shirt was targeting a protected class. Who is this protected class? Are their feelings more important than my rights?”
School staff members have also told him to remove a shirt that read, “There are censored genders.”
The middle school’s lawyers told the family’s Massachusetts Family Institute (MFI) attorneys that the school would continue to “prohibit the wearing of a T-shirt by Liam Morrison or anyone else which is likely to be considered discriminatory, harassing and/or bullying to others including those who are gender nonconforming by suggesting that their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression does not exist or is invalid.”
MFI attorney Sam Whiting firmly believes Liam’s shirt is protected by the First Amendment, and that his behavior was entirely appropriate under the circumstances.
Whiting told Fox News Digital that Nichols Middle School censored Liam because of his “political and cultural viewpoint” on an issue that is being widely “debat[ed] right now in the public square.”
“Liam did everything correct in this situation. He hasn’t disrupted anything. He hasn’t harassed anyone. And yet they’re still censoring him just because they don’t like what his shirt had to say. And that’s made even more obvious by the fact that they made him take off a censored version of the shirt,” Whiting continued.
Whiting is confident that the Morrison family will emerge victorious.
“We believe that we’re going to get a win on this. I mean, I really can’t think of a better fact pattern to vindicate a student’s First Amendment rights,” he said.
The family’s attorney said Nichols Middle School can next expect a summons to federal court.
Liam said during his speech before the school committee meeting that he was never once confronted by any student or staff member who told him “they were bothered by what I was wearing.” Instead, “several kids told me that they supported my actions and that they wanted one, too,” he said.
Judge Andrew Napolitano has pointed out that while “students, even at age 11, have First Amendment rights,” “they are subject to the mission of the school,” meaning that if the speech “disrupts” education, “then the school can punish the student.”
“But if the student is silent expressing an opinion and there is no evidence of disruption, then the student’s opinion stands,” Napolitano said.