Teen sues school over her anti-gay shirt
A student at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville filed suit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago, arguing that her school violated her civil rights by refusing to let her wear a T-shirt opposing homosexuality on moral grounds.
The student is represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, a national organization based in Arizona that has filed at least eight similar lawsuits across the country, said Gary McCaleb, senior counsel for the group.
McCaleb said the group is trying to "enable Christian students to express a contrasting viewpoint on homosexuality."
According to the suit, Heidi Zamecnik, a 17-year-old Naperville resident and a senior at Neuqua Valley, wore a T-shirt to school last April stating, "Be Happy, Not Gay."
Zamecnik donned her shirt in response to the Day of Silence, a national event recognized by many schools. Students can refuse to speak during the school day—even in response to faculty questions—to bring attention to the harassment of homosexuals.
Zamecnik opted to wear her own T-shirt the following day as a counter viewpoint.
The suit claims the dean of students pulled Zamecnik aside and asked her to remove the shirt. When she refused, another dean instructed a counselor to mark out the words "not gay" and the shirt then read, "Be Happy," the suit states.
Zamecnik and her parents tried to discuss the incident with school officials, McCaleb said. He said the parents also tried to work out an agreement that would allow their daughter to wear a similar T-shirt next month, again following the Day of Silence.
McCaleb said school officials denied the parents' request.
Attempts to reach school officials were unsuccessful Wednesday.