A gay pride t-shirt has renewed the focus on free speech, civil rights and community values, as viewed through the lens of the Joplin Globe in Missouri.
Brad Matthewson, a 16-year-old student in Missouri, was chastised after wearing -shirts announcing “I’m gay and I’m proud” and “Make a difference! FHS Gay-Straight Alliance.”
After the school refused to change the dress code prohibiting “disruptive” attire, the ACLU filed suit against the district on Matthewson’s behalf.
Reaction to the suit and controversy has been mixed. A large number of readers of the Joplin Globe approved of the school’s dress policy, even as the newspaper’s editor published an editorial coming out strongly in favor of free speech.
Notorious “God Hates Fags” preacher Fred Phelps of Topeka, Kan., pledged to come to Missouri to protest the suit and t-shirts.
A local minister Baptist minister said Phelps’ actions amounted to “hate mongering,” but supported the schools ban on the t-shirts.
Suit called ‘unfortunate,’ ‘appropriate’ / Reaction mixed on ACLU decision”
Joplin Globe, November 24, 2004
“Most readers say shirts should be curbed”
Joplin Globe, November 21, 2004
“First Amendment covers all”
Joplin Globe, November 14, 2004