CINCINNATI (The Blaze/AP) -- A gay student whose southwest Ohio high school prohibited him from wearing a t-shirt designed to urge tolerance of gays is suing the school, saying it's violating his freedom of expression rights.
The mother of 16-year-old Maverick Couch filed the federal lawsuit on his behalf against Wayne Local School District and the principal of Waynesville High School, northeast of Cincinnati.
Couch is a junior at the public school. His lawsuit says he's been threatened with suspension if he wears a shirt bearing the message "Jesus Is Not a Homophobe." The t-shirt, as MSNBC notes, is "emblazoned with a colorful logo of a fish traditionally used as a Christian symbol, as well as the slogan in large bold text."
The lawsuit says school officials told him the shirt is "sexual in nature" and inappropriate.
"I don’t think the shirt is sexual at all. I don’t know how they can say that," Couch has responded. "I don’t think it’s indecent."
The Cincinnati.com has more about the t-shirt in question:
Maverick Couch wants to wear the shirt in his Warren County school on April 20 to show support for the Day of Silence, a national event that draws attention to the silencing of gay and lesbian students through bullying. [...]
Couch, 17, said he tried to wear the shirt last spring for the Day of Silence and on several other occasions, but school Principal Randy Gebhardt repeatedly rejected his request.
The lawsuit asks that school officials be ordered to allow Couch to wear the shirt. It also seeks unspecified damages.
School district Superintendent Patrick Dubbs said Tuesday he hadn't seen the lawsuit and couldn't extensively comment on the matter.
"We’re in the business of education and our main concern is maintaining an environment that is conducive to education," he said. "We want our kids to be able to come to school and learn."
Lamba Legal, an organization that fights for the civil rights of gays and lesbians, has launched a petition in support of Couch.