*Abstinence message - teachers wrong, student right* Bill Bumpas - OneNewsNow - 5/31/2010 4:00:00 AMMessage 1 of 1 , May 31, 2010View SourceAbstinence message - teachers wrong, student rightBill Bumpas - OneNewsNow - 5/31/2010 4:00:00 AM
A middle-school student in Minnesota has regained his right to wear at school a T-shirt bearing an abstinence message.
Officials at Hastings Middle School had initially prohibited seventh-grader Johnathon Kinney from wearing the T-shirt with the message "Virginity Rocks!" On April 26, two school teachers confronted Kinney about the shirt, informing him that it was offensive and should be covered up. School officials also warned Kinney against wearing the shirt again.
After contacting the principal about the incident -- and finding he supported the teachers' decision -- Kinney's parents contacted The Rutherford Institute. John Whitehead, president of the Institute, explains the sequence of events that followed.
"We sent a very strong legal letter saying we're going to sue the school district because this is a First Amendment right of school students," says the attorney.
"In order to prohibit students from doing anything at schools, you have to show that somehow it's going to cause disruption or reasonably forecast it's going to cause disruption," he explains. "They couldn't show that here -- so once the lawyer for the school board looked at the issue, they knew that school officials were wrong."
Whitehead tells OneNewsNow that wearing the T-shirt is one way for students who agree with Johnathon Kinney to express their free-speech rights.
"On the front it says 'Virginity Rocks!' -- and on the back it says 'I'm loving my wife and I haven't met her yet,'" he shares. "It's a pretty radical message in a school system where there are virtually no morals."
Whitehead says he is pleased that school officials have recognized their error and have agreed to respect the student's First Amendment rights by allowing him to wear his T-shirt to school.