7th Grader Punished For Wearing Shirt Declaring ‘Two Genders’ Loses in Court

A seventh-grader that wore a shirt to school that declared there are only two genders faced punishment for his statement. His family’s efforts to allow the shirt has also faced significant difficulty in court, including a ruling this month.

Liam Morrison, aged 12, claims that Nichols Middle School in Middleborough, Massachusetts, violated his First Amendment rights. An attorney representing Morrison’s case asked for “an immediate order so that he could express himself for the rest of the school year.”

Morrison lost the first engagement in court, with the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts denying a request for a temporary injunction, which would have blocked the school from prohibiting Morrison from wearing the shirt.

The court’s decision determined that Morrison’s right to wear the shirt was not protected speech. According to the decision of the District Court, Morrison did not establish “a likelihood of success on the merits” regarding the school’s dress code. 

Furthermore, the court found that the school’s administrators “were well within their discretion to conclude that the statement “THERE ARE ONLY TWO GENDERS” conflicted with the rights of “students who identify differently, whether they do so openly or not.” 

The order said that such students “have a right to attend school without being confronted by messages attacking their identities.” 

The court determined that schools are permitted to “prohibit speech that is in “collision with the rights of others to be secure and be let alone.”

According to the lawsuit, the Constitution protects the “freedom to differ.” The suit criticized the school’s “annual, school-wide events celebrating” the view that “a person’s subjective identity determines whether a person is male or female.” 

According to the filing, acting principal Heather Tucker said that Morrison would not be able to return to class unless he removed the shirt. When the student refused, he was forced to leave school for the rest of the day. 

The suit asserts that the shirt “caused no disruptions” at the middle school. 

The school’s administration claimed that the student’s shirt was barred due to its dress code, which prohibits messages which “state, imply or depict hate speech or imagery that target group” based on several protected statuses, including “gender identity.”

According to Morrison’s attorneys, the school’s efforts violated both his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.