California Student Wins Censorship Battle Over Lesbian Shirt

Queer American Student Settles Free Speech Lawsuit Over Dress Code

School district to amend dress code to allow students to express identities.

A 16-year old student from Manteca, California has settled a federal free speech lawsuit with her high school.

After being sent home for refusing to change her shirt that read “Nobody knows I’m a lesbian,” Taylor Victor contacted the American Civil Liberties union.

The Vice Principal at Victor’s school originally told her t hat her shirt was inappropriate “on the grounds that she was not allowed to display her ‘sexuality’ on clothing.” After confirming that the shirt did not violate the dress code, Leland told Victor that she was not allowed to “display personal choices and beliefs” on clothing because it could be viewed as “disruptive” or “gang-related”.

The Assistant Principal Dan Beukelman also told Victor that her shirt was “promoting sex” and displayed an “open invitation to sex”.

Now, the district has agreed to amend the dress code and clarify that students are allowed to wear clothing supporting their or their classmates’ personal identities. This includes race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation. Taylor is also allowed to wear her “Nobody knows I’m a lesbian” shirt to school without the fear of harassment from students or district employees.

Taylor’s attorney, Linnea Nelson, said “being a lesbian is an important part of Taylor’s identity, and she shouldn’t be censored from talking about it at school. Students don’t leave their rights to free speech at the schoolhouse gates. At the end of the day, the law on this is very clear, that public schools can’t censor the personal beliefs of students just because they think it might be controversial.”

Taylor said that she is happy after “months of fighting this censorship battle.”