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Active U.S. District Courts

L.M. v. Town of Middleborough

MA boy forbidden to wear “There are only two genders” T-shirt to school

Liam Morrison wearing his "There are only two genders" shirt on the sidewalk

Summary

Seventh grader Liam Morrison wore a T-shirt to Nichols Middle School in Middleborough, Massachusetts, that said, “There are only two genders.” The principal of the school, along with a school counselor, pulled Liam out of class and ordered him to remove his shirt. After Liam politely declined, school officials said that he must remove the shirt or he could not return to class. As a result, Liam left school and missed the rest of his classes that day.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • In March 2023, Liam wore a t-shirt with the words, “There are only two genders,” written on the front. He was removed from his first class by the school principal, who told him he must change his shirt to remain in class. Liam did not wish to change his shirt, so the school contacted his father, who picked him up and took him home for the rest of the day.

    A couple of months later, Liam wore a shirt to school with a similar message, except the words “two genders” were replaced with the word “censored.” Together, this shirt read, “There are censored genders.” The principal again told Liam to change his shirt, and Liam complied so that he did not miss another day of class.

  • Yes. In Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, a group of students were sent home from school for wearing black armbands meant to signify their support for a truce in the Vietnam War. The students’ families sued the school, and the Supreme Court ruled that the school had indeed violated the First Amendment by censoring the students’ speech. In the majority opinion, the Court clarified that students and teachers do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” In Liam’s case, the actions of Nichols Middle School officials directly contradict this ruling.

  • Almost every school day, multiple students wear clothing that expresses messages about a variety of topics. Regarding the issues of gender identity and sexual orientation, Nichols Middle School even hosts a “Pride Week” in which students are encouraged to wear clothing expressing support for LGBT ideology. But when Liam wore a shirt expressing a different view on these issues, the school punished him.

  • ADF attorneys are asking the court to issue an order prohibiting the Town of Middleborough and the Middleborough School Committee from illegally censoring Liam’s speech. In addition, we are asking the court to declare the speech policy that Nichols Middle School used to censor Liam unconstitutional.

Additional Resources

Case Profiles

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Logan Spena
Logan Spena
Legal Counsel
Logan Spena serves as legal counsel for the Center for Academic Freedom with Alliance Defending Freedom, where he defends the rights of students, professors, and organizations to speak, associate, and worship freely.
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John Bursch
John Bursch
Senior Counsel, Vice President of Appellate Advocacy
John Bursch is senior counsel and vice president of appellate advocacy with Alliance Defending Freedom.