Group threatens to file suit against Jefferson Co. schools

Group threatens to file suit against Jefferson Co. schools over gay rights name tag

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Hannah Bradley said a school official told her the tags were a distraction. Hannah Bradley said a school official told her the tags were a distraction.

DANDRIDGE (WATE) - The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) sent a letter Thursday to Jefferson County High School administrators in response to a conflict over gay rights name tags.

In the letter, the group threatens to sue the school district if officials on behalf of a student who claims she was forced to remove a name tag she wore to raise awareness of anti-gay bullying.

Hannah Bradley, a senior at the high school, and other students wore small name tags stating their orientation on Oct. 11 to protest anti-gay bullying in observance of National Coming Out Day.

"Students like Hannah who are courageous enough to take a stand against bullying deserve the school's support – not censorship and condemnation," said Alesdair Ittelson, an SPLC staff attorney. "Displays of heterosexual orientation are ubiquitous; it is impermissible for school authorities to censor or shame non-heterosexual students for simply declaring who they are."

The letter, which was also sent to the county's director of schools, warns that if school officials don't take meaningful action to stop censoring students, the SPLC will file a federal lawsuit on Bradley's behalf.

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