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Student speech has rarely been free in American high schools, and after “Loud & Proud” t-shirt-wearing Morris High students shouted at their silent peers who’d donned “Look Beyond” shirts for the pro-LGBT National Day of Silence, the administration banned both sets of shirts and student demonstrations in the Western Minnesota High School.
The “Look Beyond” t-shirts had gotten the twitter seal of approval from former Viking’s punter Chris Kluwe:
Support your local GSA on the National Day of Silence! Got this cool shirt from the Morris GSA – happy to wear it. pic.twitter.com/neNw9UDuvp
— Cassandra (@ChrisWarcraft) April 15, 2016
Fifty students at Morris High were not as supportive of the GSA.
At the Morris Sun Tribune, Kim Ukura reports in High school bans t-shirts, demonstrations after response to Day of Silence:
Morris Area High School has banned t-shirts with two slogans — “Loud and Proud” and “Look Beyond” — after student demonstrations turned disruptive last Friday, April 15.
On Wednesday, Morris Area High School Principal Bill Kehoe announced the decision to ban the specific slogans on shirts or other clothing at school and school-sponsored activities.
“We will not tolerate demonstrations or any conduct by any student or groups of students that disrupts the school environment or puts the safety or well-being of students at risk,” Kehoe said in a statement read over the intercom at the end of the school day.
The t-shirt demonstrations arose around the Day of Silence, a student-led national event where students remain silent for the day in an effort to draw attention to the effect of bullying and harassment of members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Members of the Morris Area Gay Straight Alliance were participating in the Day of Silence on Friday, many wearing shirts that said “Look Beyond.”
But other students came to school prepared to shout at the silent students:
On the same day, approximately 50 students arrived at school wearing shirts that said “Loud and Proud.” The dark blue shirts had an image of an American flag and a pickup truck on the front.
At the end of the day, a district staff member called the Morris Police Department who came to the school to “disband” students gathered in the parking lot and offer help “getting kids home safely that day,” Lahn said. . . .
At the Morris Area School Board’s meeting on Monday evening, parent Sylke Boyd said her daughter — a student member of the GSA participating in the Day of Silence — came home “distraught and upset” over other students who “grouped up and were shouting at the people wearing the Day of Silence shirts.”
In taking action to mitigate the conflict between students, Boyd said she hoped the district would look to the incident as a “teachable moment.”
“My concern is that the polarization becomes worse, that it goes from shouting and group forming to something worse — I would like not to see that,” said Boyd. “I would like to see something that helps these young people … to find a way to constructively still communicate.” . . .
Read the entire article at the Sun Tribune.
Banner: National Day of Silence.