Gillman v. School Board for Holmes County
In the fall of 2007, students at Ponce de Leon High voiced support for a lesbian student by writing “gay pride” on their arms and notebooks or wearing rainbow-themed clothing after the principal shamed her when she reported harassment. The principal interrogated the supportive students and censored their speech. With the help of the ACLU, Heather Gillman sought clarification as to what phrases and symbols, like the rainbow flag or “I support my gay friends,” would be allowed at the school. The school district replied that it would not allow any expressions of support for gay rights at all because such speech would “likely be disruptive.”
Gillman sued the school board for unconstitutionally silencing her support for LGBT friends at school. The Court agreed that this speech, though not popular among the teachers and administrators, would not cause a substantial and material disruption and therefore must be permitted. Furthermore, the school could not censor speech simply because it disagreed with it. The Court’s opinion is reported at Gillman v. Sch. Bd. for Holmes Cnty., Fla., 567 F. Supp. 2d 1359 (N.D. Fla. 2008).
Complaint - (01/31/08)
ACLU’s Letter to School Board - (11/02/07)
Opinion - (07/24/08)