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Tennessee School District To Allow Students To Wear Gay Pride Shirts

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(credit: SAMUEL KUBANI/AFP/GettyImages)

(credit: SAMUEL KUBANI/AFP/GettyImages)

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SAVANNAH, Tenn. (AP) — The Hardin County School District has agreed to allow students to display their support for gays and lesbians.

The assertion came in a letter from the district’s attorney to the nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center. The letter was from attorney Stephen Shields of the Memphis firm Jackson, Shields, Yeiser and Holt on behalf of the school district.

The center had complained last month that students were being prohibited from publicly supporting gay rights in school.

That was after several high schools students said an assistant principal told them that T-shirts such as one with a rainbow flag violated the dress code policy by promoting sex.

The school district attorney writes that students can peacefully display “non-vulgar expressions in support of LGBT people.” The letter also affirms that slogans such as “Lesbian and Proud” and “I Love My Gay Friends” are not vulgar or sexually suggestive and do not violate school policy.

SPLC attorney Sam Wolfe said allowing greater freedom of expression is nearly always better than expensive litigation.

“The Constitution protects the bedrock principle of our democracy that the government, including school officials, may not ban expressions of an opinion they simply dislike,” Wolfe said.

The district’s letter was a reply to the law center’s complaint on behalf of Hardin County High School student Isabella Nuzzo, who said she is not gay but wants to express support for her gay friends.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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