Students at Virginia School Told to Remove Pro-Life T-Shirts

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 30, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Students at Virginia School Told to Remove Pro-Life T-Shirts

by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 30, 2004

Sportylvania, VA ( — As pro-life advocates expected, there were controversies this Tuesday on national pro-life t-shirt day, when pro-life students across the country wore pro-life shirts to junior high and high schools.

In Spotsylvania, Virginia, a 12 year-old student at Battlefield Middle School was initially permitted to wear her shirt. She also distributed 40 pro-life shirts to friends. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper, a principal later asked the students to remove the shirts when they caused a classroom of students to begin debating abortion.

The shirts in question show a picture of a 4-month old developing unborn child and asks "Do you really believe this isn’t a baby?"

Erik Whittington of the pro-life group Rock for Life, called the school to complain about the incident, but received no response.

Battlefield principal Sheila Smith asked the students to remove the shirts after a classroom erupted into a debate over abortion, Spotsylvania School Superintendent Jerry Hill told the Richmond newspaper.

Hill pointed to district policy allowing school officials to prohibit "any apparel that causes a disruption to the educational process" and said students at other district schools wore the shirts with no problem.

In advance of the shirt day announcement, the Thomas More Law Center, a pro-life law firm, announced that it would provide, as it has done in the past, pro bono legal representation for students prevented from wearing their shirts.

A spokeswoman from the firm told the Dispatch newspaper that it had been contacted about the Spotsylvania situation but would not comment further.

Whittington said he had also heard of students facing similar problems in Ohio and California.