A student at the West Shore School District will be able to wear an anti-abortion T-shirt to school.
The student at Crossroads Middle School, in Lewisberry, was told Sept. 8 to turn his T-shirt inside out because it was a distraction. The white T-shirt had "abortion is not health care" written on it with what appears to be a black marker.
The child's father, William Boyer, of Fairview Township, filed a lawsuit in federal court Oct. 5, saying the T-shirt should be allowed because it's an issue of free speech. The Harrisburg-based Independence Law Center and Alliance Defense Fund, Christian law group, are representing Boyer and his son.
Today, the school district and lawyers for the child, who is identified only as E.B. in the lawsuit, agreed to a temporary compromise while the sides work out a settlement.
The agreement allows the child to wear his shirt to school. He can also wear other religious or anti-abortion shirts, so long as they don't create a distraction, according to the settlement. The school still has the right to limit clothing that interferes with the school day.
Lawyers for the father and son called the temporary agreement a "victory."
School district spokeswoman Crista L. DeGregorio declined to comment. Efforts to reach William Boyer for comment were unsuccessful.
The Oct. 5 lawsuit was filed in federal court. It says the child decided to wear his homemade T-shirt to school the day the president was to speak to school children because the speech was a "national controversy." The president spoke about being a good student and staying in school. He did not speak about health care or abortion.
Worried about what the president might say during his speech, the child decided to wear the T-shirt to "voice his religious viewpoint as it relates to the issue of abortion," according to the lawsuit. Students in grades six through eight attend the school.
The child and his family are "Bible-believing Christians" who don't want a national health care overhaul and "especially don't want any funding of abortion," according to the lawsuit.
At school, the child wore the shirt until his 5th-period teacher sent him to the office to see if the shirt was appropriate, according to the lawsuit. The child eventually was told to either change the shirt or turn it inside out.
West Shore, like most other public school districts, has a policy that allows officials to prohibit student dress that is a distraction to the educational process. The child's lawyers maintain the T-shirt in question was not disruptive.
The district and the child's lawyers have until Jan. 15, 2010, to come to a final agreement. If they do not, the issue could go to trial. U.S. District Judge Christopher C. Conner approved the temporary settlement today.