With some of her friends, Alissa organized an anti-homophobia t-shirt campaign at their high school to draw attention to the hostile environment there for LGBT students and to promote acceptance and safety. They encouraged fellow students to wear t-shirts that read “Gay? Fine by me.” After the campaign, Alissa’s school approved her request to start a Gay Straight Alliance and also agreed to add sexual orientation to its anti-harassment policy.


Know Your Rights!

You school must let you wear a t-shirt expressing your support for LGBT rights if it lets other students wear t-shirts expressing other political or social viewpoints. Your speech is protected by the First Amendment so long as it doesn’t include Obscenities, threats, “lewd or vulgar” statements, promote illegal drug use, significantly disrupt classes or interfere with the rights of others. Even if your message is unpopular or offensive, your school can’t censor it. The hostile reaction of other people to your message doesn’t mean the school can silence you.

Stand up for Your Rights!

For more information, see Speaking out with Your T-Shirt from the ACLU.

Students who want to express opinions what could be offensive to LGBT youth also have the right to express their views. Your school can and should, however, respond to all derogatory speech by promoting tolerance and the value of diversity.