ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla. – A controversial shirt has prompted the American Civil Liberties Union to file a law suit against the Alachua County School Board.
The Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville has been at the center of controversy since the summer when they posted signs reading "Islam is of the devil" in their front lawn. The controversy escalated at the beginning of the school year when some of the children from the church started wearing T-shirts with that same message to public schools around Alachua County.
The Alachua County School Board said the level of discipline varied case by case for those wearing the t-shirts, but each student wearing one was first asked to change shirts, and some that didn't comply were sent home.
That prompted the ACLU to file a lawsuit against the school board Monday challenging the right for school administrators to allow messages which they determine to be "positive" while banning messages they determine to be "negative."
Beneeta Standly of the ACLU argues that's an infringement on the student's rights.
?If you take those phrases in context, somebody can always be offended by something,? Standly said. ?So what they're doing is censoring free speech.?
Jackie Johnson of the Alachua County School District said it's just a matter of dress code.
?Our dress code makes it very clear we don't allow students to wear clothing that's distracting, disruptive, to other students, and the feeling was very strong from parents and students that they did just that,? said Johnson.
We will continue to following this story with any updates. Since the lawsuit was filed Monday, there have not been any other court dates scheduled at this time.