On the back of 16-year-old Elliot Chambers' shirt was the universal symbol of a man and woman holding hands.
"In the afternoon, he was approached by an assistant principal, who told him that a female student, representing a group of homosexual students, were offended at Elliot's wearing of the sweatshirt, and the assistant principal said she would be speaking with the principal about the matter," said Michael DePrimo of American Family Association Law Center, who is representing the family.
"The next day, Elliot was summoned to the principal's office, and he was told he could not wear the sweatshirt to school again, allegedly because homosexuals were offended by it," DePrimo said.
The school has set up "safe" rooms, marked by inverted pink triangles, the universal symbol of homosexuals. The "safe" rooms are set aside for student/teacher discussion and counseling about homosexuality and other "non-traditional relationships."
During a meeting with Principal Dana Babbitt, the Chambers family expressed concern about the school's open support of homosexuality. The family claims Babbitt called them "homophobic."
"The Chambers have contacted many other parents of Woodbury High School students and informed them of the safe rooms and the open support that the school is giving to homosexuality and bisexuality," DePrimo said. "From what I heard, every parent was outraged to find out what the school has done."
The center is challenging the constitutionality of the school's policy, which, according to DePrimo, says: "Students may not wear items with unacceptable writing or graphic depictions, which offend anyone or distract from the educational experience of students at Woodbury High School. Unacceptable writing or graphic depictions are those, which are commonly accepted as vulgar, obscene or socially demeaning or derogatory."
DePrimo said, "And it's our position that his sweatshirt does not fall into that category."
Stephen M. Crampton, chief counsel for the center, said: "This is a case of classic viewpoint discrimination. The school has chosen to openly embrace homosexuality and bisexuality, and it does not welcome dissenting points of views. What is especially troubling is the school's open hostility toward student support of committed man-woman relationships."
Babbitt and the school district declined comment.
American Family Association Law Center is the legal arm of American Family Association Inc. It has offices in Tupelo, Miss., and Washington, D.C. The center restricts its practice to constitutional litigation in state and federal courts throughout the country.
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