Oregon City, Ore. (CBS SEATTLE) — Students at a high school in Oregon City sparked controversy after wearing “Gay Is Not Ok” shirts in protest of the National Day of Silence, an event intended to bring attention to bullying against the LGBT community in schools.
Two of the students protesting the nationwide, student-led April 11 event said they were simply drawing attention to their right to speak out against having the all-day event.
“I just made it say ‘Gay Day is not OK,’ because I don’t believe that it’s OK,” Oregon City High School senior Alex Borho told KPTV, adding that if he’s not comfortable with a “whole day” being dedicated to the “moment of silence,” then he has the right to wear the T-shirts.
“The shirts were at the school today because we don’t think it’s right that the school should have a full day supporting gays, and if it is okay, then we should be able to say we do not approve of gays because we are religious,” he explained to KPTV.
When asked if he realized this would be offensive to gay students, the senior told KATU-TV that while he understood, “we find it offensive because we don’t believe it’s right to be gay so they’re offending us just as much as we’re offending them.”
“I don’t have a big problem with gay people. It’s just when they start parading around the school about how we have a day of silence for gays, lesbians and transvestites,” Borho told KPTV. “We don’t have a straight day.”
A school administrator told reporters that the school would not be allowing the “Gay Day Is Not OK” shirts on the campus, and students wearing them would be required to turn them inside out or take them off, KATU reports.
Many students at the school indicated that the overwhelming majority of students at the 2,000-person school are “not okay” with the few students wearing the controversial t-shirts. Some students were so offended by the shirts that they approached KATU to question why the shirts were permissible at school at all.
“I don’t agree with the shirts at all,” one student told KATU. “I feel like it doesn’t make a purpose. I don’t feel like you’re really saying anything.”
“I was just really sad because I take pride in this school,” senior Justin Low told KPTV. “We’re all students here and we’re all trying to accomplish the same things: get through the four years, graduate and hopefully set ourselves for a bright future.”
“I don’t’ understand how people can treat others that way and have that sort of negative feelings toward one another,” added Low.
This is not the first case of students protesting LGBT events in the region. Two 16-year-olds were suspended for wearing Confederate flags to Tahoma High School in Maple Valley, Wash., last October, KIRO-TV reported. The students cited free speech as justification for their protest against a classmate who had been wearing a rainbow flag to school in honor of LGBT History Month.
However, the school’s principal said the two Maple Valley students were suspended after reportedly being warned that the school forbids the Confederate flag, as it is a “representation of hate.”
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