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Federal appeals court rules against middle school student who wore a shirt with the message ‘only two genders’



The First Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld a decision by a Massachusetts middle school to ask a student to remove his T-shirt that said “There are only two genders.” The court denied eighth grader Liam Morrison’s appeal that Nichols Middle School in Middleborough had violated his First Amendment rights. The ruling supported an earlier District Court decision. David Cortman, senior counsel and vice president of U.S. Litigation for Alliance Defending Freedom, stated that the case is not about T-shirts but about a public school censoring a student’s differing viewpoint. The Morrison family is being represented by Alliance Defending Freedom and the Massachusetts Family Institute.

Liam Morrison, who was in seventh grade at the time, was sent home after refusing to take off the T-shirt. He later wore the same shirt with the words “only two” covered with a piece of tape saying “censored,” and the school also asked him to remove this shirt. In an interview with Fox News Digital, Morrison clarified that his T-shirt was not targeting any specific group of people, such as those who are lesbian, gay, or transgender. He simply wanted to express his belief, emphasizing that it was not hate speech directed at anyone.

David Cortman emphasized that the legal system is based on the principle that the government cannot silence individuals simply because it disagrees with their views. He pointed out that while the school promotes its own views on gender with posters and “Pride” events and allows students to wear clothing with messages on the subject, it censored Liam Morrison’s expression of a differing opinion. Cortman stated that they are exploring all legal options, including the possibility of appealing the federal circuit court’s decision.

Overall, the case involving Liam Morrison’s T-shirt at Nichols Middle School has brought attention to the issue of free speech in public schools. The court’s decision to uphold the school’s actions has sparked debate about the boundaries of students’ rights to express their views, particularly when those views conflict with the school’s official stance. The involvement of organizations like Alliance Defending Freedom and the Massachusetts Family Institute highlights the importance of defending individual freedoms, even in educational settings.

The controversy surrounding Liam Morrison’s T-shirt also raises questions about how schools navigate sensitive topics such as gender identity and expression. While schools have a responsibility to create a safe and inclusive environment for all students, it is essential to balance this goal with respecting students’ freedom of speech. The case illustrates the delicate balance between promoting a school’s values and allowing students to voice their own beliefs, even if they may differ from those of the institution.

Moving forward, the case could set a precedent for how similar situations involving student expression are handled in public schools. By examining the legal implications of restricting students’ freedom of speech, the decision by the First Circuit Court of Appeals may impact future cases and shape the boundaries of free expression within educational institutions. As the Morrison family explores their legal options, the outcome of this case could have broader implications for how schools address conflicting viewpoints among students.

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