School Sends Girl Home for Wearing Shirt Saying She's a Lesbian

Pop quiz! Is a T-shirt bearing the phrase "Nobody Knows I'm a Lesbian" a.) offensive, b.) distracting, or c.) all of the above? If you're a student at Chesnee High School in South Carolina, the answer is c.) ... and wearing such a shirt will get you sent home from school for the day.


You have to give some credit to the Chesnee principal who flagged 18-year-old Brianna Popour down over her T-shirt: At least this dress code story is a little more creative than most, as it doesn't involve bare clavicles or exposed knees.

Points for creativity are really the only points to be given out in this situation, though. While Popour was allowed back at school the next day (wearing a "Keep Calm and Kiss Girls" T-shirt, no less), the administrator refused to apologize to her. And in a statement issued by the school to the local news station, her shirt was deemed to be both "distracting" and "offensive."

First of all, there is no hole deep enough to bury the idea that the word "lesbian" is an offensive one, or that it's too scandalous for school. The acknowledgement of human beings on the LGBTQIA spectrum isn't an affront -- it's a fact.

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And secondly, we are setting the bar for "distracting" impressively low here. If shirts merely acknowledging the existence of sexuality are too distracting, I hope any boys in "Chick Magnet" shirts or girls in "Training to be Batman's Wife" gear (remember those? ugh) are getting sent home too. If displaying your sexuality preferences on a T-shirt is distracting, it better be distracting across the board, and not just a case of "eek, lesbians!"

Also, as long as we're getting rid of shirts in school that could be distracting, here's what I'd get rid of first: sports jerseys. Because if the bar for "too distracting" is set so low that it just means "something students could talk about," sports are clearly Public Enemy #1; nothing ever caused a worse frenzy in my Wisconsin classroom than an iconoclast in a Bears jersey.

But if Chesnee High School's not going to kick sports shirts to the curb, then let's just sit back and acknowledge the fact that Brianna Popour's shirt wasn't exceptionally distracting; it was just a shirt that someone in power over her didn't like and refused to fit into his worldview. The only offensive thing here is a grown man acting like a lesbian teenager publicly existing in his vicinity is in some way objectionable.


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