A 12-year-old boy was sent home from school for wearing a T-shirt with a phrase that school officials told him made some other students feel “unsafe.” What was the phrase? “There are only two genders.”
Liam Morrison, a student at Nichols Middle School in Middleborough, Mass., was pulled out of class by the school’s principal and counselor. He was told to remove his shirt or he not be allowed to return to class. “They told me that I wasn’t in trouble, but it sure felt like I was,” he said. After he declined, they called his father and Morrison was sent home.
IBSA ministry partner Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is representing Morrison and his parents in a federal lawsuit filed in May against school officials and the Town of Middleborough. “This isn’t about a T-shirt; this is about a public school telling a seventh grader that he isn’t allowed to hold a view that differs from the school’s preferred orthodoxy,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer. “Public school officials can’t censor Liam’s speech by forcing him to remove a shirt that states a scientific fact. Doing so is a gross violation of the First Amendment.”
In a video posted online and watched over four million times, Morrison addressed his local school board. “I have been told that my shirt was targeting a protected class,” the boy said. “Who is this protected class? Are their feelings more important than my rights? I don’t complain when I see pride flags and diversity posters hung throughout the school. Do you know why? Because others have a right to their beliefs just as I do.”
According to ADF, “School officials have adopted one particular view on the subject of sex and gender: that a person’s subjective identity determines whether a person is male or female, not a person’s sex.” In other words, the view of school officials is the only one permitted to be expressed by students.
It’s a scene that that wouldn’t have played out a decade ago. According to the latest Gallup poll, the number of U.S. adults who identify as LGBTQ has doubled since 2012. Among Gen Z, those born between 1997 to 2012, the number is 20.85%–one-in-five of the middle schoolers.
ADF partners with IBSA to protect churches’ First Amendment Rights and offers IBSA churches annual review of their legal documents for a discounted fee.