Brave kid sent home for wearing ‘only two genders’ shirt to school loses First Amendment lawsuit appeal

Jun 11, 2024 | U.S. | 0 comments

A panel of Democrat-appointed judges has sided with a Massachusetts school that censored a middle-school student for wearing a T-shirt that asserted a basic biological fact regarding gender.

In the 2022-2023 school year, Liam Morrison was a seventh-grade student attending Nichols Middle School in Middleborough, Massachusetts, about 40 miles south of Boston. During his time at the school, Liam has worn several T-shirts with different political messages, including “Don’t tread on me” and “First Amendment Rights,” without any issue.

‘Students who identify differently … have a right to attend school without being confronted by messages attacking their identities.’

However, in March 2023, he wore a T-shirt that read, “There are only two genders,” which apparently triggered several school officials who claimed the shirt targeted a “protected class” of students. After Liam refused to remove the shirt, school officials called his father to pick him up from school, as Blaze News previously reported.

“Who is this protected class? Are their feelings more important than my rights?” Liam asked the school board around that time.

Several weeks later, he wore the T-shirt to school again, though this time he covered up the portion of the message that said “only two” with a message that read “censored” instead. He was once again ordered to remove the shirt, and he complied.

But Liam and his parents didn’t take the school’s decision lying down. They soon partnered with Massachusetts Family Institute and Alliance Defending Freedom, which then filed a federal lawsuit on Liam’s behalf, arguing that Middleborough Public Schools officials had violated his First Amendment rights.

A district court then sided with the school, ruling that “students who identify differently … have a right to attend school without being confronted by messages attacking their identities.” It also determined that the censored version of the T-shirt might still cause a disruption or otherwise threaten the safety of other students, Law&Crime reported.

Liam, his parents, and his legal team then took the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston. On Sunday, a three-judge panel ruled to uphold the lower court’s ruling.

“We think it was reasonable for Middleborough to forecast that a message displayed throughout the school day denying the existence of the gender identities of transgender and gender non-conforming students would have a serious negative impact on those students’ ability to concentrate on their classroom work,” Chief U.S. Circuit Judge David Barron wrote in the decision.

Barron further claimed that such “transgender and gender non-conforming students” often experience “suicidal ideation” when their gender identities are called into question. Liam’s shirt could therefore have a negative “effect … on those students’ ability to learn,” he said.

Liam previously stated that no one complained or had an adverse reaction to his shirt at school. In fact, he claimed that some of his fellow students expressed support for his shirt and wanted one just like it.

All three judges on the circuit court panel were appointed by Democrat presidents. Barron and fellow panelist Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson were both appointed by former President Barack Obama, and Judge Lara Montecalvo was appointed by President Joe Biden.

‘This case isn’t about T-shirts; it’s about a public school telling a middle-schooler that he isn’t allowed to express a view that differs from their own.’

Despite the setback with the First Circuit panel, the MFI and ADF insisted that Liam’s fight for freedom is far from over. “The 1st Circuit erred in its decision denying [Liam] his right to free speech, and we are reviewing all legal options including appealing this decision,” said ADF senior counsel David Cortman.

Sam Whiting, an MFI staff attorney, claimed that Liam’s legal team would be willing to take the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. Whiting also noted that there was “no evidence” that Liam’s shirt “caused a disruption.”

“The court held that the possibility that some students might suffer psychological distress from his shirt was enough to justify censoring him,” Whiting said, bewildered.

“This case isn’t about T-shirts; it’s about a public school telling a middle-schooler that he isn’t allowed to express a view that differs from their own,” Cortman added. “The school actively promotes its view about gender through posters and ‘Pride’ events, and it encourages students to wear clothing with messages on the same topic—so long as that clothing expresses the school’s preferred views on the subject.”

“Our legal system is built on the truth that the government cannot silence any speaker just because it disapproves of what they say.”

Like Blaze News? Bypass the censors, sign up for our newsletters, and get stories like this direct to your inbox. Sign up here!

A panel of Democrat-appointed judges has sided with a Massachusetts school that censored a middle-school student for wearing a T-shirt that asserted a basic biological fact regarding gender.In the 2022-2023 school year, Liam Morrison was a seventh-grade student attending Nichols Middle School in Middleborough, Massachusetts, about 40 miles south of Boston. During his time at the school, Liam has worn several T-shirts with different political messages, including “Don’t tread on me” and “First Amendment Rights,” without any issue.’Students who identify differently … have a right to attend school without being confronted by messages attacking their identities.’However, in March 2023, he wore a T-shirt that read, “There are only two genders,” which apparently triggered several school officials who claimed the shirt targeted a “protected class” of students. After Liam refused to remove the shirt, school officials called his father to pick him up from school, as Blaze News previously reported. “Who is this protected class? Are their feelings more important than my rights?” Liam asked the school board around that time.Several weeks later, he wore the T-shirt to school again, though this time he covered up the portion of the message that said “only two” with a message that read “censored” instead. He was once again ordered to remove the shirt, and he complied.But Liam and his parents didn’t take the school’s decision lying down. They soon partnered with Massachusetts Family Institute and Alliance Defending Freedom, which then filed a federal lawsuit on Liam’s behalf, arguing that Middleborough Public Schools officials had violated his First Amendment rights.A district court then sided with the school, ruling that “students who identify differently … have a right to attend school without being confronted by messages attacking their identities.” It also determined that the censored version of the T-shirt might still cause a disruption or otherwise threaten the safety of other students, Law&Crime reported.Liam, his parents, and his legal team then took the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston. On Sunday, a three-judge panel ruled to uphold the lower court’s ruling. “We think it was reasonable for Middleborough to forecast that a message displayed throughout the school day denying the existence of the gender identities of transgender and gender non-conforming students would have a serious negative impact on those students’ ability to concentrate on their classroom work,” Chief U.S. Circuit Judge David Barron wrote in the decision.Barron further claimed that such “transgender and gender non-conforming students” often experience “suicidal ideation” when their gender identities are called into question. Liam’s shirt could therefore have a negative “effect … on those students’ ability to learn,” he said.Liam previously stated that no one complained or had an adverse reaction to his shirt at school. In fact, he claimed that some of his fellow students expressed support for his shirt and wanted one just like it.All three judges on the circuit court panel were appointed by Democrat presidents. Barron and fellow panelist Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson were both appointed by former President Barack Obama, and Judge Lara Montecalvo was appointed by President Joe Biden.’This case isn’t about T-shirts; it’s about a public school telling a middle-schooler that he isn’t allowed to express a view that differs from their own.’Despite the setback with the First Circuit panel, the MFI and ADF insisted that Liam’s fight for freedom is far from over. “The 1st Circuit erred in its decision denying [Liam] his right to free speech, and we are reviewing all legal options including appealing this decision,” said ADF senior counsel David Cortman.Sam Whiting, an MFI staff attorney, claimed that Liam’s legal team would be willing to take the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. Whiting also noted that there was “no evidence” that Liam’s shirt “caused a disruption.” “The court held that the possibility that some students might suffer psychological distress from his shirt was enough to justify censoring him,” Whiting said, bewildered.”This case isn’t about T-shirts; it’s about a public school telling a middle-schooler that he isn’t allowed to express a view that differs from their own,” Cortman added. “The school actively promotes its view about gender through posters and ‘Pride’ events, and it encourages students to wear clothing with messages on the same topic—so long as that clothing expresses the school’s preferred views on the subject.””Our legal system is built on the truth that the government cannot silence any speaker just because it disapproves of what they say.”Like Blaze News? Bypass the censors, sign up for our newsletters, and get stories like this direct to your inbox. Sign up here![#item_full_content]

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