MANCHESTER — A Manchester Jr-Sr High School student is suing the school after he was told he couldn't wear a t-shirt that read: "I Hope I Don't Get Killed for Being Black Today."
The student, only identified by his initials, was forced to leave school one day in August after he refused to remove the shirt with that message, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana.
The ACLU filed the lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana in South Bend. The lawsuit claims that the student's First Amendment rights have been violated.
The ACLU's submitted complaint explains that the student, who is reportedly one of few Black students in the school, "is acutely aware of the many incidents where young Black men have been fatally shot by law enforcement authorities. To protest what he perceives as the systemic racism that is behind the shooting and to personalize the issue to his classmates and school, he wore a t-shirt to the school in August of 2020."
When the student was sent to the administration's office in August, Manchester's principal Dr. Jon Lipp allegedly told the student his t-shirt "is not going to fly” and demanded he remove it or he would need to go home, according to the filed complaint. The student didn't remove his shirt because he "believes that the message of the t-shirt is an important one to transmit to students and staff and that the t-shirt makes an extremely important statement." The student's mom was called to pick him up, and he was not allowed back for the rest of the day.
The student's shirt didn't violate the school's student handbook and did not cause class disruption, the ACLU said. Further, the ACLU reports that Manchester students regularly wear “Blue Lives Matter," “MAGA,” and Confederate flag-adorned apparel.
The ACLU reports the student has been subjected to racial epithets in the school from fellow students in the past and that the school denying his ability to wear the shirt only further causes him harm.