Lynn Mayor, ACLU Defend Student Who Wore ‘Lesbian’ Shirt To School

By Karen Anderson, WBZ-TV

LYNN (CBS) – A Lynn English sophomore posted a video on the Internet explaining why she wanted to wear a t-shirt that says “all the cool girls are lesbians” at school.

“What I want from this, is I want justice,” says Rachel. “I’m someone who believes in justice, I’m someone who believes in standing up for what’s right.”

Rachel Bavaro posted the video after a controversy that has made headlines across the nation.

In January, a vice principal asked Rachel to cover up her shirt saying, “We don’t wear political things or inflammatory or anything that could be deemed disruptive.”

Rachel accepted the principal’s decision, but they decided to write a letter to the mayor of Lynn, explaining that she was offended.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy is now speaking out in support of Rachel. She says she looked at the law, and Rachel is allowed to wear that shirt because it wasn’t disruptive.

“I think it’s the adults that need to understand that the students have rights in the schools,” says the mayor. “They as administrators can’t run it with just their personal opinions and preferences in mind.”

The ACLU is now taking action too.  “Offensiveness is not enough of a reason to interfere with freedom of expression even in the public schools, all kinds of things are offensive but you put up with it,” says Attorney Sarah Wunsch. “That’s how people learn.”

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports

She says that Rachel deserves an apology from the school.

Principal Thomas Strangie does not agree. “I don’t think this is an issue of freedom of speech myself,” he says. “I don’t think people should be identifying themselves with their orientation, what their ethnicity is, what their religion is,” says Strangie. “We are here, we are working together.”

The mayor, who is also the Chair of the School Committee, says Rachel will be able to wear the tee shirt. She says the faculty will also be given sensitivity training on issues of freedom of speech.


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