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Update: School says T-shirt ban was to limit disruptions, not hinder expression

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Officials at a central Minnesota high school continue to ban students from wearing T-shirts with the slogans "Look Beyond" and "Loud and Proud" after students exhibited some 'controversial' behavior.

Superintendent Rich Lahn told BringMeTheNews the shirts are still temporarily banned to "avoid any further disruption to the school environment."

The controversy over the shirts began on April 15, the Day of Silence – a day where students from across the country take a vow of silence to bring attention to the "silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools."

Some students at Morris High School chose to participate in the day, and made celebratory T-shirts bearing the words "#LookBeyond Stereotypes Labels Differences."

Even former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe joined in solidarity.

https://twitter.com/ChrisWarcraft/status/721049456758562816

GSA stands for "Gay Straight Alliance," an organization that promotes positive relationships between LGBTQ students and straight students. Morris High School has had an official GSA club since October 2015, according to the Morris Sun Tribune.

But tensions arose when about 50 other students showed up wearing conflicting shirts that said "Loud and Proud" with images of a pickup truck and an American flag.

Shirts banned after 'confrontational' behavior

The administration chose to ban both the T-shirts after the opposing messages sparked inappropriate behavior that was "verbal and confrontational," Superintendent Lahn told BringMeTheNews.

About 75 students total wore T-shirts in support of or against the movement, he said.

A parent told the school board that her daughter came home upset after the "Loud and Proud" students gathered in the parking lot after school and shouted at the other students, the Morris Sun Tribune reported. A staff member at the school called the police to disband the group and make sure everyone got home safely.

There were allegations of student misconduct that are being investigated, but no claims that any student was physically harmed, the superintendent said.

Now some are demanding the school to lift the ban, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, who sent a letter to the school district asking them "focus on the heart of the problem."

https://twitter.com/ACLUMN/status/725004099108888576

https://twitter.com/MNGSA_Network/status/725540204593864704

The superintendent says that the shirts continue to be banned, and so far no students have worn them in rebellion.

In a statement to BringMeTheNews, Lahn said:

"We are respectful of students’ First Amendment rights of expression, including wearing the T-shirts; however, when, as in this case, there is significant disruption to the school environment, we have a responsibility to take action to limit further disruption. The law and our policies recognizes that a student’s right of expression is not unlimited — there are times when our obligation to provide a safe, civil and effective learning environment takes priority."

The Day of Silence was founded at the University of Virginia in 1996 – Lahn said students at Morris High School have been participating in the event for approximately 10 years.

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