It takes a truckload of courage to be out and proud in high school. That goes double for kids who do so in a sassy and classy way like Rachel Bavaro – a sophomore from Lynn, Massachusetts who wore what can easily be considered the most subtly badass t-shirt ever designed – a pink shirt with "all the cool girls are lesbians" printed on it – to school one day.
She got in trouble for wearing the shirt, which an assistant principle decided was offensive, and she had to cover it up for the rest of the day. For most young people, that would’ve been it, just another lame encounter with "the man" and another stifling reminder that being queer – and open about it — is not OK. But Rachel fought back.
She wrote an incredibly articulate letter to the mayor, and posted a video account of her side of the story. It’s getting national attention, and rightly so. What’s that? Do I hear the First Amendment poking up and actually meaning something again?
Since I work at the ACLU of Massachusetts, I’ve been swimming in the details of this incident all week. We wrote about it on our own blog and got involved as soon as the details went public. It’s important for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being that in this current climate that runs the gamut between "it gets better" and tragic teen suicides, this girl had the guts to tell it like it is.
I can assure you I am not the only gay student in our school; male or female. There are hundreds. They are not all open about it, but that is irrelevant. I am a young lady who stands up for what I believe in. I feel as if my rights have been violated. It makes me a little uneasy that by being myself and being proud of that that I was scrutinized and disciplined like a girl who was wearing a shirt too low.
Rachel, you absolutely rock – not only for standing up for yourself, but by doing so in such an effective way. If anybody deserves to wear awesome T-shirts to school, it’s you. Now, if there’s any justice in the land, someone with a CafePress account and a sassy sense of humor will make you a custom version.