ACLU Settles Lawsuit Over Students' Right to Free Speech

Aug 18, 2016
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The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee has settled a free speech lawsuit sparked by a student's T-shirt.

The Tennessean reports that the federal lawsuit was filed last November on behalf of a Richland High School senior who was censored by the school system after she wore a shirt to the school supporting equality for lesbian and gay people.

The shirt read: "Some People Are Gay, Get Over It."

The lawsuit said the school's principal prohibited the student from wearing that shirt or any other shirt referencing lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender rights because it might provoke other students.

However, a U.S. District judge wrote a preliminary injunction defending students' rights to wear pro-LGBT apparel to school as long as it does not disrupt the school environment.

Kevin Willis, WKU Public Radio

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam is questioning the need for a special legislative session related to the bathroom use of transgender public school students.

Some Republican state lawmakers have called for a special session after a directive issued by President Barack Obama's administration that public schools must allow students to use facilities consistent with their gender identity.

Haslam told reporters Wednesday that it's unclear what the strategy or purpose of a special session would be. GOP lawmakers have engaged in a letter-writing campaign since the Obama directive was issued, demanding that the state join lawsuits challenging their implementation.

A Tennessee  bill seeking to require students to use restrooms and locker rooms corresponding to the gender listed on their birth certificates was withdrawn in the waning days of the legislative session last month.

A youth detention center in Tennessee that saw the escape of 32 teens on Tuesday is back in the news today: Blake Farmer of NPR member station WPLN tells our Newscast unit that about 20 of them rioted overnight.

Blake filed this report:

"Teens could be seen carrying pipes and spraying fire extinguishers, running around the yard of the Woodland Hills youth detention center, which houses youth who've committed at least three felonies.

Tennessee election officials are hoping to break another record when the early voting period ends on Thursday, but they acknowledge remnants of superstorm Sandy could affect voter turnout in the northeastern part of the state.