Minnesota School Sued for Prohibiting Pro-Life Student’s Shirt Against Abortion
by Steven Ertelt
May 30, 2008
Hutchinson, MN (LifeNews.com) — A Minnesota school district is the subject of a lawsuit from a pro-life law firm after it prohibited a student from wearing a shirt that condemned abortion. The Thomas More Law Center filed the suit Wednesday on behalf of the student and his mother.
The suit claims Hutchinson school district prevented the 12-year-old form wearing the shirt and forced him to turn it inside out after he had worn various pro-life T-shirts for several days. TMLC officials filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.
It alleges the district violated the pre-teen’s free speech rights of Jeanne Ibbitson’s son and that he suffered "irreparable harm."
"My son kept getting singled out," Ibbitson told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "He should be able to wear those shirts at school, and they decided that he can’t. It’s not right."
"We’re a Christian family," she added. "He knows it’s the termination of life. He knows that it’s wrong. He should have the right to wear the shirt to express that. Even if he’s the only person at the school who believes that, he should still be able to wear that shirt under the Constitution, and they’ve taken that away from him."
Superintendent Daron VanderHeiden told the newspaper he had not seen the lawsuit and couldn’t comment on it.
"We’re currently seeking legal counsel on it," he said. "I don’t know the facts of the incident other than what’s in here (the lawsuit), and that’s their version of what happened."
Burnsville attorney Paul Taylor will be representing the Hutchinson Middle School boy and his mother and said the school violated his rights because they didn’t like the message."
"The Supreme Court has said students don’t check their free-speech rights at the schoolhouse door," Taylor said. "The fact is, they were punishing the message."
"People who have popular speech don’t need constitutional protections," he said. "The First Amendment was directed by the founding fathers to protect unpopular speech."
The newspaper indicated one shirt had the message, "Abortion Growing, Growing, Gone," another had "What part of abortion don’t you understand?" and the third had "Never Known, Not Forgotten" on the front, with the inscription "47,000,000 babies aborted 1973-2008" on the back.
The student wore the shirts on April 29, which pro-life groups have sponsored as National Pro-Life T-Shirt Day and continued wearing them days after the event.