High school students, who sparked outrage after they started wearing anti-gay stickers on their identity badges, have been told to take the images off ‘for now’.
The symbols in question show a rainbow pattern crossed out with a red circle and a line.
They started popping up in the hallways three weeks ago, prompting concern by classmates and teachers.
Both anti-gay stickers and pro-gay rights symbols were allowed as a matter of free speech at Shadow Hills High School in Indio, California, according to The Desert Sun and FOX News.
But Superintendent Gary Rutherford said new information instigated an additional review he said on Monday but didn’t say what the new information was.
‘Recently some information has been brought forward that requires additional investigation and follow-up to determine a proper course of action.
‘Pending further investigation, we are going to ask students who are displaying the symbol showing a rainbow pattern with a circle and a line, at least for now, to remove symbols while at school,’ Rutherford wrote.
Faculty at Shadow Hills High School in Indio, California, had insisted they couldn’t force the teenagers to remove the labels because it would violate their right to freedom of speech.
However, federal courts allow some limits on student speech, allowing schools to prohibit items like banners and T-shirts that mentioned drug use.
People also slammed the labels as homophobic when images of them were uploaded to Facebook.
The school initially released a statement to the Desert Sun when the symbols started cropping up saying: ‘After consulting with district level personnel and our legal counsel, it was determined that these students do have the protected right to freedom of speech, just as students portraying rainbows in support of the LGBT would.
‘If at any point students are interrupting class time to express their beliefs, they are to be sent to the discipline office with a referral for disruption.
‘We all have a right to freedom of speech, but students also have a right to be educated without fear. This has always been our policy, and we will continue to enforce it.’
In response to the anti-gay stickers, students including eighth-grader Paige Labayog started coloring in rainbow smiley faces to wear on their ID badges.
Some teachers have also gone against their school district, insisting they aren’t happy with the decision.
Amy Oberman, an AP U.S. History teacher at Shadow Hills, told the newspaper: ‘Yes, there is freedom of speech established by Tinker, but at least in my view, it’s a hate crime because a group was targeted.
‘I’m Jewish, and if that had been a little swastika on my window, what’s the difference?’
Michelle Bachman, a senior at Shadow Hills and vice president of the Gay Straight Alliance, said she feels the anti-gay symbols ‘rise to the level of bullying and intimidation.’
‘This group of students was publicly displaying an intolerance and hate for the LGBT community when a large portion of our students at SHHS are part of the community or close to people a part of it as well,” Bachman said on Twitter through a direct message conversation with The Desert Sun. “This is definitely hate speech, but legally, we can’t do anything until these students start to physically harass us, which I believe is an injustice.
Taken from DailyMail.Co.Uk