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Petitioning Superintendent Benny Gooden and 1 other

Tell Arkansas School: Gay-Supportive T-Shirts Don't Merit Suspending Students


Sommer Collins, a 15-year-old student in the Fort Smith School District in Arkansas, was suspended by her school for wearing a gay-supportive T-shirt. A simple white T-shirt, with the words, "Support homosexual love," and "Proud to be lesbian," was all it took for the school district to remove this student from class. They said she was disrupting education.

But what really disrupts education is telling a student that she deserves punishment for wearing something gay-supportive. It sends the message that it's appropriate to treat LGBT students differently, and that there's something wrong with showing support for gay rights. That's unacceptable.

Demand that the Fort Smith School District apologize to Sommer Collins for the suspension. No student should be told that they can't attend classes because they support gay rights, or because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Letter to
Superintendent Benny Gooden
Deputy Superintendent Gordon Floyd
According to a news report by a local Fox station, 15-year-old student Sommer Collins was suspended from school in your district because she showed up for school wearing a T-shirt that supported gay rights. This comes after Sommer was disciplined by her teacher for wearing a rainbow bracelet.

Disciplining students for their support of gay rights is, simply put, wrong. No student deserves to be suspended because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, or for their support of gay rights. All Sommer's T-shirt said was, "Support homosexual love," and "Proud to be lesbian." Neither of these statements are offensive, and neither "disrupt education," as one teacher allegedly told Sommer's parents.

What really disrupts education is telling a gay student that she can't attend classes because of her identity, or telling a student that their gay-supportive T-shirt is offensive. Doing that only fosters a culture where gay students can be treated differently, and bullied by classmates, teachers and administrators. And that's not acceptable.

Please reconsider the decision to suspend Sommer Collins. She did nothing wrong, and your district's decision to punish her only sends a homophobic message.

Thank you for your time.