(The Hill) — High school students in Georgia have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Effingham County School District for prohibiting students from wearing clothes promoting Black Lives Matter messaging.
The three unnamed students, one 15-year-old and two 16-year-olds, allege in the suit that school administrators “engaged in an egregious pattern of deliberately ignoring complaints” of racial animosity at Effingham County High School and Effingham College & Career Academy.
The suit, filed under Lakeisha Hamilton, the mother of one of the students, and Tauretta McCray, the mother of two of the students, argues the students’ right to free speech was infringed upon while others were allowed to engage in racial intimidation with impunity.
“In one instance, a black student was refused entry to a football game because she was wearing a ‘Black Lives Matter’ shirt; and was advised that she could not enter with it on,” the lawsuit states. “However, a white student was allowed entry at the very same event with a shirt that read, ‘Stomp on My Flag; I’ll Stomp Your A**’. There were no repercussions for that white student.”
The lawsuit also alleges the students’ right to equal protection under the 14th Amendment was violated.
Black students have been subjected to a “pervasive and consistent” pattern of harassment and discrimination that the administration has been aware of and refused to act upon, the suit alleges.
Some of these incidents, according to the suit, included students scrawling a racial epithet across lockers in the baseball locker room; a noose being hung in the football locker room; students wearing Confederate flag attire and Confederate flags being hung around the school; a white student wearing a Hitler costume during spirit week with prior approval from a teacher; white students’ use of racial slurs including the n-word; and one white teacher making “overtly racist remarks.”
“The school’s dress code and disciplinary policies create an atmosphere where certain viewpoints including white nationalism and white supremacy are permitted but speech of an ideologically different viewpoint is expressly prohibited,” the lawsuit states.
The students are requesting a trial by jury. They are calling for the school’s dress code to be amended, prohibiting discrimination based on political viewpoints, and punitive damages.
Effingham County School District Superintendent Yancy Ford, who is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.