Student suspended for criticizing gay lifestyle on t-shirt

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ROLLA, MO (KTVI)-- Rolla High School administrators suspended a sophomore student this week who refused to remove a tee shirt that displayed Bible verses opposing homosexuality.

Fellow student Courtney Hairfield and her older sister Heather Cheatham believe religious free speech is being denied by the district while student members of a Gay/Straight Alliance club at the high school are allowed to wear gay pride tee shirts.

'The student came to school and he had three Bible verses on the front of his shirt and on the back it said `being gay ain`t right`,' Hairfield said Friday.

Cheatham,  who plans to take her complaint to the Rolla Board of Education, said "If it was something vulgar or had to do with drugs then yeah, I could understand why this happened. But it wasn`t profanity; it wasn`t anything.  It`s aggravating."

Rolla School District Superintendent Aaron Zalis declined to discuss the specific case but said "Students are given an opportunity to resolve an issue and to discuss it with a counselor.  This is not that big of an issue."

The dress code posted on the Rolla High School website indicates students will be told in private that their clothing could be a 'disruptive influence or embarrassing to individual students or teachers.'  They then could be required to change clothing or wear a school spirit shirt and face disciplinary action including suspension.

Zalis said the dress code is regularly reviewed by a Board Policy Committee made up of students, parents and administrators.

Betsey.bruce@tvstl.com
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