The American Civil Liberties Union has sued the Alachua County, Fla., school district, claiming it violated students’ rights by not allowing them to wear T-shirts with an anti-Islamic message.
The ACLU says that while it doesn’t agree with the “Islam is of the Devil” message printed on T-shirts distributed by the Dove World Outreach Center, it does support the students’ constitutional right to freedom of speech.
A school dress code prohibits clothing that school officials conclude would “disrupt the learning process” or cause other students to be “offended or distracted.” The students were sent home for violation of the code after declining to change out of the shirts.
In a letter to the ACLU, the school board’s law firm said that “a school may regulate a student’s free-speech rights if the exercise of those rights materially and substantially interferes with maintaining appropriate discipline at school, or if the conduct impinges on the rights of other students.”
A version of this article appeared in the December 09, 2009 edition of Education Week as ACLU Challenges Florida District on Ban of Shirts Criticizing Islam