A Neuqua Valley High senior has gone to federal court seeking the right to wear an anti-gay T-shirt to school next month on the day after a national event in support of gays is scheduled in schools.
Heidi Zamecnik, 17, is asking the court to order her school and Indian Prairie District 204 to allow her to express her anti-gay beliefs on April 19, the day after the 11th annual "Day of Silence'' is scheduled to protest harassment of gays in schools.
According to the Web site www.dayofsilence.org (external - login to view),students and teachers across the country plan to observe the day in silence "to echo'' the silence that gay students face all the time.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday on behalf of Heidi and an NVHS freshman did not state what written message they planned to wear on T-shirts.
'Day of Silence'
Heidi's father, Carl Zamecnik, declined to comment Wednesday night on behalf of his family, and he referred calls to an attorney. Because of her family's "sincerely held religious beliefs" against homosexuality, "they wish to share their conviction that true happiness cannot be found through homosexual behavior," the suit says.
During her first two years of high school, the Naperville resident did not outwardly object to the "Day of Silence," in which students wear pro-gay messages on T-shirts. But in her junior year, Heidi wore a T-shirt the day after a "Day of Silence." It read in part, "BE HAPPY, NOT GAY."
That day, April 26, 2006, Dean of Students Bryan Wells told Heidi to remove the shirt or leave because her message offended others, according to the suit. When she refused, her mother was called.
'Be Happy. Be Straight'
Linda Zamecnik and Wells agreed Wells could alter the shirt's message to read "Be Happy. Be Straight." But the suit says the agreement was broken when a school counselor crossed out "NOT GAY" in black marker but nothing replaced it.
The suit says Linda Zamecnik discussed the issue with the principal and superintendent and was told that staff had done nothing wrong.
The suit says Heidi suffered unlawful discrimination, humiliation and punishment by school personnel merely because they didn't agree with her viewpoint.
Sun-Times News Group