Colorado school forces gay marriage supporter to change her shirt

Timothy Kincaid

November 4th, 2010

Falcon High School in Falcon, Colorado, has a student dress code:

The Board recognizes that students have a right to express themselves through dress and personal appearance; however, students shall not wear apparel that is deemed disruptive or potentially disruptive to the classroom environment or to the maintenance of a safe and orderly school.

The school even provides specifics on forbidden clothing. The first five rules relate to revealing items, but the sixth category addresses expression:

6. Any clothing, paraphernalia, grooming, jewelry, hair coloring, accessories, or body adornments that are or contain any advertisement, symbols, words, slogans, patches, or pictures that:

* Refer to drugs, tobacco, alcohol, or weapons.

* Are of a sexual nature.

* By virtue of color, arrangement, trademark, or other attribute, denote membership in gangs that advocate drug use, violence, or disruptive behavior.

* Are obscene, profane, vulgar, lewd, or legally libelous.

* Threaten the safety or welfare of any person.

* Promote any activity prohibited by the student code of conduct.

* Create a safety hazard for the student or others.

*Otherwise disrupt the teaching-learning process.

These seem clear. However, when Kate Cohn wore a shirt to school which said “[marriage is so gay]”, the principle made her remove it, insisting it was in violation to the school policy. (KKTV)

“Our district does have a dress code policy, all the students are aware of it,” said District 49 spokesperson Stephanie Meredith. According to Meredith, the school’s principal acted within the parameters of the school dress code, which gives an administrator room to decide when a line has been crossed.

“If it’s obscene, lewd, or anything that might be disruptive to the educational environment,” Meredith said, “Those are things where a judgment call might come into play.”

Cohn’s pro-gay-marriage message is not obscene or lewd. Which must mean that Principal Greg Moles Mike Carara finds this message to “disrupt the teaching-learning process.”

I wonder exactly what teaching and learning Moles Carara doesn’t want disrupted by Cohn’s support for her gay friends and family.

Tina C

November 4th, 2010

Thanks for posting this.

Kate could use “factual and peaceful” letters of support sent to her school.

Hope you’ll take the time to help her help us.


November 4th, 2010

Unfortunately the local news item (which seems to be the only primary source here) is pretty vague about why the administrators thought this t-shirt violated the dress code. Even if the administration can’t come up with a good reason I can offer one. You can’t simultaneously prohibit kids from using the phrase “that’s so gay” because it’s abusive to gays and allow exceptions for ironic usages, as is the case here. This would open the door for anyone to claim, if challenged, that they are using the phrase ironically.

If Ms. Cohn was told to remove a t-shirt with a similar pro-marriage equality message phrased in a more innocuous way I’d be more concerned. Perhaps more details will emerge which make it clear that the administrators objected to the message of the t-shirt, not the language used. As it is, I can’t see much reason to be upset about this.


November 4th, 2010

The ACLU should know about this. And they’ll win in court. Guaranteed.

Tina C

November 4th, 2010

Werdna- good point. i hadn’t thought of it that way.

certainly from the student’s side, she believes that she was prohibited from expressing her support of marriage equality.

i hope they- school and students- are able to address this in a way that is informative & supportive of all students.


November 4th, 2010

Just so you know, the Principal’s name is actually Mark Carara.

Timothy Kincaid

November 4th, 2010

Thanks JoBro, my error.


November 4th, 2010

Hi! I’m the girl this is about! I just want to clarify to all wondering. I specifically asked the principal, “If I wear a straight forward shirt saying ‘Legalize Gay Marriage’ instead of one that may be taken another way would it be ok?” and without a minutes thought he said “No! That would not be ok either”

Lindoro Almaviva

November 4th, 2010

Well, Kate, time to talk to the local chapter of the ACLU. I am sure if someone showed up with a shirt that read “Jesus is the Lord of marriage” he would have no problem with it. Here is the information you should know:

ACLU of Colorado
400 Corona Street
Denver, Colorado 80218

Phone: (303) 777-5482
Fax: (303) 777-1773


November 4th, 2010

dress codes can be stupid. When I was in HS we weren’t allowed to dye our hair colors that “were not naturally found in hair”. Kate, I would definitely contact the ACLU.

David in Houston

November 5th, 2010

To play devil’s advocate here, if this t-shirt is allowed then why can’t a student wear a t-shirt that reads, “The bible says homosexuality is a sin.”? If that’s the student’s belief, then why shouldn’t they be allowed to wear it? Freedom of speech has to work both ways, otherwise it isn’t freedom of speech.

Priya Lynn

November 5th, 2010

David, because the marriage t-shirt is a message of acceptance while the sin t-shirt is a message of rejection. Its the same reason a school might allow a “black is beautiful” t-shirt and disallow a “blacks are inferior” t-shirt.


November 5th, 2010

David in Houston:

Well a T-shirt advocating gay marriage is not denigrating or attacking anyone. Unless you’re in that school of thought that believes any pro-gay statement is somehow, by it’s very nature, a direct attack on others ie Christians.

Implying that someone is a sinner is, ahem, pretty denigrating.

If she wore a t-shirt that claimed that anyone who is opposed to gay marriage is an inbred bigot then that would be denigrating and not probably not appropriate.


November 5th, 2010

To David and all,

It does work both ways. That shirt would be covered under freedom of speech.

Priya & Leo- help me out, I’m not an expert on free speech, but it’s not my understanding that acceptance/rejection or denigration are factors in freedom of speech. (unless it’s a one-on-one interaction that is taken as “fighting words”)

I’m not trying to be a pain. I think it’s important that we actually know the extent of our(and others’)rights.

Tina C

November 5th, 2010

okay, i’ve tried to post 3 things after Leo’s comment. if, whoever’s checking these (assuming they aren’t flying off into the interweb ether) reads this…

just post one of them. take your pick.

muchas gracias

Tina C

November 5th, 2010

alright, ignore the above comment.

I was trying to include a link (triggered the spam filter) to the ACLU’s page on hate speech.

David & gang- a shirt with “Homosexuality is a Sin”, as I understand it, would be covered under free speech.

I see nothing that excludes speech that is “denigrating” or “rejecting” from protection under the 1st Amendment.

Please correct me if I’m mistaken.

My question: what is it about a “Homosexuality is a Sin” shirt that wld be a problem?

Can you articulate that for me?

Timothy Kincaid

November 6th, 2010


I don’t know why, but your comments with the link were caught in the spam filter. I approved one.

Priya Lynn

November 7th, 2010

Tina said “Priya & Leo- help me out, I’m not an expert on free speech, but it’s not my understanding that acceptance/rejection or denigration are factors in freedom of speech.”.

Tina free speech isn’t a mandate of schools. Schools routinely restrict free speech to ensure a safe effective learning environment. So while a “gayness is a sin” t-shirt would be covered under free speech, a school is not obligated to allow such denigrating speech.

Tina C

November 9th, 2010

Timothy- thanks, who knows where they went. after 3 evaporated comments, I was getting slap-happy.

Priya- i see your point, yet I question whether calling something a sin is denigrating. … as i type that, it sounds horrible… but hear me out.

what I am getting at is that, if that is someone’s belief, that’s their belief. it’s not reality.

if someone wore a shirt that said “Eating Cows is Bad Kharma” or “Sunday Shoppers Defile the Sabbath. Repent Sinners,” would that be equally denigrating?

Can you help me make sense of this?

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.


Latest Posts

The Things You Learn from the Internet

"The Intel On This Wasn't 100 Percent"

From Fake News To Real Bullets: This Is The New Normal

NC Gov McCrory Throws In The Towel

Colorado Store Manager Verbally Attacks "Faggot That Voted For Hillary" In Front of 4-Year-Old Son

Associated Press Updates "Alt-Right" Usage Guide

A Challenge for Blue Bubble Democrats

Baptist Churches in Dallas, Austin Expelled Over LGBT-Affirming Stance

Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.

Paul Cameron’s World

In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.

Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!

And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.