Florida Student Sues School After Being Suspended for Wearing Anti-Bullying T-Shirt

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A Florida student is suing her high school in Arcadia after she was suspended for wearing a t-shirt with an anti-gay bullying message.

Amber Hatcher, an openly lesbian 16-year-old, filed a lawsuit on Feb. 26 against the DeSoto County High School arguing the school interfered with her First Amendment rights when they suspended her last year.

In the lawsuit, Hatcher said she was wearing a t-shirt with the message “DOS April 20, 2012: Shhhhh” and communicated with peers and teachers by dry erase board.

DOS is the abbreviation for “Day of Silence,” a national day of observance that takes place every year since 1996 to to protest the bullying and harassment of LGBT teens. The event was started by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network and takes place every April.

After repeated warnings from school administrators and a rotund disapproval from DeSoto County School Superintendent Adrian Cline, Hatcher decided to wear the t-shirt and proceed with her plan to protest last year. She was suspended from school later that day.

“DeSoto County Schools is practicing the very kind of harassment and discrimination the Day of Silence is designed to address in schools,” Eliza Byard, GLSEN's executive director, said in a statement.

“By participating in the Day of Silence, students across the country are directing attention to the reality that LGBT youth experience a disproportionate amount of bullying and harassment in schools. We stand by Amber's right to express her belief that she and the rest of her peers deserve a safer learning experience regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.”

For its part, the school has not issued a response on the case.

READ: Hatcher’s lawsuit against her school.

Hatcher v. DeSoto County Board of Education, et al. by Sergio Nahuel Candido