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Sixth Circuit Bound? Teen Sues Over Jesus Is Not a Homophobe Shirt

By Robyn Hagan Cain on April 06, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

We know this case has just been filed, but it is destined for the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Maverick Couch, a 16-year-old gay high school student in Ohio, claims that Waynesville High School violated his free speech rights because administrators wouldn't let him wear a "Jesus Is Not a Homophobe" t-shirt to school. Couch says the school objected that his shirt -- which shows a Christian fish symbol colored-in with a rainbow -- was "indecent and sexual," reports The Cincinnati Enquirer.

Now he's suing the school in federal court.

The school recognizes a lightning rod when it sees one, and has offered to let Couch wear the shirt to school on April 20 for the Day of Silence, an annual event protesting the bullying and harassment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students, reports The Associated Press.

While this gesture of sartorial amnesty may seem sufficient to make Couch's case moot, his attorney insists that one day is not enough. Lambda Legal attorney Christopher Clark told the AP, "a student's First Amendment rights are not restricted to one day of the year -- we will continue to fight until Maverick is allowed to express who he is on any day he chooses."

So why are we so set on seeing this case through to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals? Because it combines our favorite Sixth Circuit legal variables: student free speech rights, religion, and legal powerhouses.

Lambda Legal's already involved in this case. The ACLU could easily hop on the bandwagon with the amicus brief supporting Couch. Wouldn't it be mind-blowing if the Alliance Defense Fund threw its hat into the ring and fought for Couch's right to wear a Jesus shirt to school? It would be like the NKOTBSB of legal super-groups. (It's unlikely, since Waynesville didn't object to the Jesus aspect of the shirt, but we can dream, right?)

In all seriousness, we're interested to see how this case progresses. How does Maverick Couch's t-shirt compare to the Tinker armbands? Is this school violating his free speech rights?

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