CHICAGO — A three-judge panel heard testimony April 4 in a Naperville high school student’s appeal to wear a T-shirt expressing opposition to homosexuality.
Alexander Nuxoll, a Neuqua Valley High School sophomore, was banned from wearing a T-shirt reading "Be Happy, Not Gay" to school.
Nuxoll and one-time student Heidi Zamecnik, who wore a similar T-shirt to school in 2006, filed a lawsuit saying their civil rights had been violated. Indian Prairie Unit District 204 later said the students could wear a T-shirt that read "Be Happy, Be Straight," but the students refused.
Last year, a judge ruled against them.
Zamecnik has since graduated. On Friday, the federal appeals court in Chicago heard arguments from attorneys in Nuxoll’s case.
The Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian litigation group representing the students, said they should be allowed to express their views. Attorney Nate Kellum said in a statement Friday, "The Constitution prohibits school officials from singling out one viewpoint for censorship while allowing opposing viewpoints to be heard."
Appellate Judge Richard Posner argued that the T-shirt’s message was just a play on words to reinforce the students’ message.
But school district attorney Thomas Canna said the shirt’s message is no laughing matter.
"I don’t believe it’s a joke at all," he said, "especially for someone struggling with their identity."
The school district has argued that the T-shirts are derogatory and cause disruption to students’ education.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 11, 2008.