Massachusetts middle school student Liam Morrison was reportedly told again to remove his shirt Friday, one that said, “There Are Censored Genders,” which he wore to protest his school’s alleged decision to censor his right to free speech.
Massachusetts Family Institute (MFI) said it is now preparing to take legal action on behalf of Liam and his parents “to vindicate Liam’s right to speak truth in a culture inundated by lies.”
Brave Middleborough student Liam Morrison wore this shirt to school today to protest the district censoring his free speech previously when he wore a shirt that said 'There Are Only Two Genders.' The district made him take this shirt off too. MFI is providing him legal support. pic.twitter.com/eVXuouYvpV
— MA Family Institute (@MAFamilyInst) May 5, 2023
On April 13, Liam defended his First Amendment rights to his school committee, several weeks after he was reportedly taken out of gym class at Nichols Middle School (NMS) and informed by school staff that complaints had been made about the shirt he was wearing that said, “There are only two genders.”
School personnel allegedly told Liam his shirt was causing others to feel “unsafe.”
“I have been told that my shirt was targeting a protected class,” Liam continued in a speech that has gone viral with over ten million views. “Who is this protected class? Are their feelings more important than my rights?”
Liam then schooled the committee on the facts surrounding First Amendment rights:
I don’t complain when I see pride flags and diversity posters hung throughout the school. Do you know why? Because others have a right to their beliefs just as I do. No one person, staff, or student told me that they were bothered by what I was wearing. Actually, just the opposite. Several kids told me that they supported my actions.
Remarks made by Superintendent Carolyn Lyons during the meeting in which Liam addressed the school committee can also be heard in the video.
Lyons spoke about a protest that occurred that same morning on public property near a public school, with two individuals holding signs that read, “There are only two genders,” and “Keep woke politics out of our schools.”
Lyons criticized the protesters, claiming that “exposing our children to messages that marginalize groups of students is a safety issue.”
“I will be renewing our effort to achieve respectful discourse on matters of disagreement, specifically racial equity, diversity, and inclusion,” Lyons added. “I will be calling on town leaders to join me in this cause.”
Following the first incident in which Liam was told to take off his shirt, MFI staff attorney Samuel J. Whiting sent a demand letter to Lyons in which he noted Acting NMS Principal Heather Tucker removed Liam from his class after she and a school counselor told Liam his shirt was inappropriate because it upset other students.
The demand letter indicated that Liam’s father “inquired about the school’s justification for removing Liam from class and demanding that he change shirts.”
“You replied that Liam’s shirt violated the school’s dress code, specifically citing the provision which states, ‘Clothing must not state, imply, or depict hate speech or imagery that target groups based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious affiliation, or any other classification,’” Whiting observed.
“You stated that ‘several’ students and staff complained about the shirt but did not cite a particular number,” the letter continued. “You also did not give any examples of disruptions or potential disruptions that the shirt had caused or was likely to cause.”
In sum, on the basis of a few complaints by unnamed students and staff, NMS censored Liam’s expression of political speech on a topic of ongoing public debate. In doing so, it is clear that NMS violated Liam’s right to free speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 16 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights.
“It should be clear that the ‘hate speech’ provision of NMS’s dress code is … facially unconstitutional and would be struck down if challenged in federal court,” Whiting concluded in the demand letter to Lyons. “By allowing speech that supports gender identity ideology, but forbidding speech that opposes it, NMS is unconstitutionally ‘picking and choosing’ speech that it favors and disfavors.”
“Liam is planning to wear the shirt to school again this Friday, and if the administration stops him, MFI will assist with any necessary legal action,” the MFI attorney wrote to Lyons in advance.
“In a move that should not surprise anyone at this point, the school made him take this shirt off, too,” MFI observed.
The Star News Network reached out to Middleborough School Committee Chairman Richard Young for comment on Liam’s address to the committee and whether those who show visible signs of belief that there are more than two genders, such as flags, stickers, and shirts, are also taken out of class. No response was ever received.
– – –