Metro Weekly

Kentucky high school forces students to change out of pro-LGBTQ shirts

Superintendent claims there was a "miscommunication" after students were cited for alleged dress code violations

T-shirts that students at Martin County High School in Kentucky were asked to remove – Photo: WYMT.

Multiple students at Martin County High School in Inez, Ky., were forced to change out of LGBTQ Pride-themed T-shirts after school administrators claimed that they violated the school’s dress code.

Two of the shirts read: “Lady Lesbian” and “Queen Queer,” and some adults found the shirts offensive. But students at the Eastern Kentucky school say that they believe they were discriminated against, since other students are allowed to wear controversial shirts without being disciplined.

“Kids wear political shirts. They wear Confederate flag shirts,” student Lilly Vance told Hazard-area CBS affiliate WYMT. “I just don’t understand what’s so wrong with wearing gay Pride shirts. Nothing we’re doing is wrong. All we are doing is expressing who we are.”

Another student, Zachary Mills, said there’s a double standard when it comes to dress code violations, pointing to students who walk around school bearing Confederate insignia.

Mills says he hope that shedding light on this incident will change people’s attitudes towards LGBTQ students — and particularly how administrators deal with them.

“I hope that we as LGBTQ students and people as a whole will be treated equally because right now that’s not what it’s looking like,” said Mills.

But Martin County Superintendent Larry James told WYMT in a statement: “Any miscommunication has been resolved. We definitely do not want any of our students to feel like they are discriminated against.”

Photo: WYMT.

Vance also said she hopes the school will allow a Gay-Straight Alliance group at the high school so that LGBTQ students will feel they have a support system.

“It’s for kids who don’t feel safe at home, who just need people to talk to and feel safe and secure. I think everyone deserves that,” she said.

Regarding the T-shirt incident, Vance hopes there won’t be similar incidents in the future, and that LGBTQ students will be allowed to express themselves freely without being punished for it.

“We’re not asking you to believe in what we believe in,” she said. “We’re just asking for respect.”

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