Middleborough School Officials Double Down On Banning T-Shirt Saying ‘There Are Only Two Genders’

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2023/05/04/middleborough-school-officials-double-down-on-banning-t-shirt-saying-there-are-only-two-genders/

Middleborough public school officials say they will continue to require that a sixth-grader not wear a T-shirt that says “There are only two genders,” possibly setting up a showdown tomorrow.

Liam Morrison, 12, first wore the T-shirt on March 21 to Nichols Middle School, where he is a student. School officials told him to change the T-shirt, NewBostonPost first reported on Friday, April 28. Morrison described the experience on April 13 in public comments before the Middleborough School Committee, an elected board that oversees the town’s public schools.

Massachusetts Family Institute, a conservative organization that advocates for religious liberty and families, then sent a letter to the district’s superintendent, Carolyn Lyons, on Thursday, April 27, saying that the action by the middle school violated Morrison’s First Amendment rights and that Morrison would be wearing the shirt again on Friday, May 5.

Through a lawyer, the superintendent responded earlier today — Thursday, May 4, the day before Morrison planned to wear the T-shirt a second time to school.

The lawyer says in the letter that Massachusetts state law prohibits in public schools apparel “that may reasonably be considered intimidating, hostile, offensive or unwelcome based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other status protected by law and/or may otherwise be reasonably likely to lead to a disruption of its operations.”

It is in this legal context, that MPS has, and will continue to, prohibit the wearing of a t-shirt by Liam Morrison or anyone else which is likely to be considered discriminatory, harassing and/or bullying to others including those who are gender nonconforming by suggesting that their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression does not exist or is invalid,” states the letter, signed by Kay Hodge, a lawyer with Stoneman, Chandler, & Miller, a law firm in Boston.

In a statement to NewBostonPost on Thursday afternoon, a Massachusetts Family Institute spokesman said that Middleborough school officials “have made it clear that they do not respect the free speech rights of students like Liam.”

”School administrators claim that Liam’s ‘There Are Only Two Genders’ shirt was ‘hate speech’ and ‘bullying.’ We believe they are going to have a hard time explaining that position to a federal judge,” the spokesman said, calling the move “censorship.”

Asked whether Morrison will still be wearing the T-shirt on Friday, May 5, a representative of Massachusetts Family Institute told NewBostonPost by email that Morrison plans to wear something in protest, but would not say what, saying only that it would be “a strong statement against censorship.”

NewBostonPost contacted Lyons and the chairman of the school committee, Richard Young, for comment on Thursday afternoon. They could not immediately be reached for comment. 


Response Letter Re. Liam Morrison


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