Family of middle school boy punished for wearing '2 genders' shirt prepare to sue

Middleborough Public Schools student Liam Morrison, 12, addresses the school committee after he was sent home for declining to change out of a shirt reading 'there are only two genders,' April 13, 2023.
Middleborough Public Schools student Liam Morrison, 12, addresses the school committee after he was sent home for declining to change out of a shirt reading "there are only two genders," April 13, 2023. | Screenshot: Facebook/Middleborough Public Schools

The family of a middle school boy is prepared to sue after staff punished the seventh grader for wearing a T-shirt declaring, “There are only two genders,” alleging that the district violated the boy’s free speech rights. 

Liam Morrison, a 12-year-old student at Nichols Middle School in Middleborough, Massachusetts, was removed from class in late March and ordered to remove his shirt because of its message that said, “There are only two genders.” In another incident on May 5, the seventh grader wore a shirt that read, “There are censored genders,” and the school asked him again to take off his shirt as class started. 

According to Fox News, attorneys for the school had informed the Massachusetts Family Institute (MFI), an organization representing the Morrison family, that it would not allow the student to wear the shirt stating a biological reality that there are only two genders, which is why the boy wore the second shirt on May 5. 

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Sam Whiting, a staff attorney for MFI, told the news outlet that he expects a lawsuit to be filed against the school “in the near future,” implying that it could be filed in a few weeks or months. The attorney disclosed that the school should expect to receive a summons to federal court from MFI.

"We believe that we're going to get a win on this. I mean, I really can't think of a better fact pattern to vindicate a student's First Amendment rights," he said, arguing that the school censored the seventh grader for his "political and cultural viewpoint" on a topic of "widespread debate right now in the public square." 

The attorney highlighted how Liam had not created a disruption or harassed anyone by wearing the first shirt and that the school censored the boy because they disliked the student’s opinion. He also noted that the second shirt made a statement about censorship, not gender, insinuating that because it was Liam wearing it, the school made him remove it. 

"Liam has the same right in school to discuss that as he would anywhere else, as long as he's not causing a disruption that ... affects the operations of the school," Whiting said. 

According to Liam, many of his classmates respect him for what he did, and that school has been “relatively normal” since the school told him to take off the second shirt. The boy informed Fox News that he had arrived at school early on May 5, just as the building opened up when someone entered his homeroom class and instructed the boy to follow him. 

"And knowing the shirt I was wearing and even though how different it was, I figured out that they would probably want me to come to the principal's office,” Liam said. “And after I had followed them, I went to the room that they told me to, and I already took my shirt off because I knew that that's what they were going to ask me to do."

The seventh grader emphasized that the shirt was not directed at anyone who identifies as transgender, lesbian or gay, and the intention was to voice his opinion. Liam encouraged others who find themselves in a similar situation to stand up for their beliefs. 

“Always fight for what you believe in and well, never let anyone stop you from believing," he said. "To be honest, in the place that we live, or in the time that we live, there are a lot of people that try and make it so that you're not allowed to believe what you can. But, it's being taken away from us. And being able to speak up not just about your own opinion, but for everybody else."

Middleborough Public Schools did not immediately respond to The Christian Post’s request for comment. 

As The Christian Post previously reported, a video of Liam addressing his school committee on April 13 went viral, with the middle schooler telling the committee he “never thought that the shirt I wore to school on March 21 would lead me to speak with you today.” The Twitter account Libs of TikTok posted the video on April 30, and at the time of this report, the video has reached over 13 million views. 

The student explained how he was taken out of gym class for a discussion with two adults when he wore the first shirt. Liam described the talk as “uncomfortable,” and he recalled how the adults told him that the words on his shirt made other students feel “unsafe,” and he could not return to class until he removed the shirt. 

“I was told that the shirt was a disruption of learning. No one got up and stormed out of class. No one burst into tears. I’m sure I would have noticed if they had,” he said. 

“I have been told that my shirt was targeting a protected class,” he continued. “Who is this protected class? Are their feelings more important than my rights? I don’t complain when I see pride flags and diversity posters hung throughout the school. Do you know why? Because others have a right to their beliefs just as I do.”

Liam stressed that wearing a “shirt with those five words” is protected by the First Amendment and he hopes the school will “speak up for the rest of us so we can express ourselves without being pulled out of class.”

He added, “Next time, it may not only be me” because “there might be more students that decide to speak out.”

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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