In Re Pinelands Regional High School

After the arrest in Tuckerton, New Jersey, of a number of young adults involved in assaulting minorities, Pinelands Regional High School students wanted to express an anti-racism message. A few students created various T-shirts that stated on the front “If I was…” and, on the back, the name of a minority group (such as Asian, Gay, Black, etc) followed by the words “would you still be friends with me? We are all different. End the Hate.” Approximately forty students wore the shirts. Those students were warned that if they wore the shirts the following school day, they would be suspended. Two students wore the shirts the next school day and refused to take them off when asked to do so.

Those two students each received a three-day suspension. On Monday, April 19, 2004, the ACLU-NJ sent a letter to the school district’s superintendent demanding (1) a written assurance that students will not be disciplined in the future for wearing the “End the Hate” or similar T-shirts and (2) that any entries to students’ disciplinary files related to this issue be immediately expunged. Later that week, the school agreed to expunge the students’ records, to allow students to wear shirts with similar messages, and to hold school programs highlighting diversity.

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