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Middleborough boy asking Boston court to halt school’s ban on ‘There are only two genders’ shirt

MIDDLEBOROUGH, Mass. — A Middleborough seventh grader is asking a Boston court to halt his school’s ban on T-shirts that say “There are only two genders” and “There are censored genders,” which school officials ordered him to remove in school, violating his First Amendment rights, his lawyer said Monday.

Liam Morrison wore the T-shirt saying “There are only two genders” to Nichols Middle School in March, and the principal of the school, along with a school counselor, pulled Liam out of class and ordered him to remove his shirt, the boy’s attorney, Logan Spena, said in a statement.

“After Liam politely declined, school officials said that he must remove the shirt or he could not return to class. As a result, Liam left school and missed the rest of his classes that day,” said Spena, who will argue the boy’s case in the U.S. District Court in Boston on Tuesday.

After that, Liam wore another shirt to school that read, “There are censored genders,” to protest to school officials that only some messages about gender are allowed in school, Spena said.

“As soon as (Liam) arrived at school, his teacher instructed him to go to the principal’s office where he was told that he could not wear that shirt at school, either,” Spena said.

Spena is legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, which along with the Massachusetts Family Institute filed a lawsuit last month on behalf of Liam.

“This isn’t about a T-shirt; this is about a public school telling a seventh grader that he isn’t allowed to hold a view that differs from the school’s orthodoxy,” said Spena. “Public school officials can’t force Liam to remove a shirt that states his position when the school lets every other student wear clothing that speaks on the same issue. Their choice to double down and silence him when he tried to protest their censorship is a gross violation of the First Amendment that we’re urging the court to rectify.”

Boston 25 reached out to Middleborough Public Schools for comment on Monday. An assistant to Schools Superintendent Carolyn Lyons declined comment, saying the school district is represented by legal counsel and that “This is a matter of ongoing litigation.”

Tuesday’s hearing involves a motion for preliminary injunction, in which Spena is requesting that the court prevent Nichols Middle School from prohibiting Liam from wearing his shirts to school while the case proceeds.

Alliance Defending Freedom is a nonprofit legal organization “committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life,” according to its website.

In the case, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys argue that Middleborough school officials “have adopted one particular view on the subject of sex and gender: that a person’s subjective identity determines whether a person is male or female, not a person’s sex.”

“They have expressed this view through their own speech; instituted schoolwide events celebrating their view; and encouraged students to engage in their own speech on this subject—so long as the students express the school’s favored viewpoint,” according to Alliance Defending Freedom. “School officials admit that their policy permits students to express viewpoints supporting the officials’ view of gender but forbids students from expressing a different view.”

Liam wore the first T-shirt “to peacefully share his belief, informed by his scientific understanding of biology, that there are only two sexes, male and female, and that a person’s gender—their status as a boy or girl, woman or man—is inextricably tied to sex,” Spena said.

The boy’s attorney said the case involves school officials’ “censorship” of Liam’s message, along with “their decision to silence his speech protesting their censorship” and “this violates the First and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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