Student Stands Up for LGBTQIA Community and Her Own First Amendment Rights

the outline of south carolina with broken heart showing rainbow colorsA Fourth Grader in South Carolina is suing her school district for infringing on her First Amendment rights after they refused to accept her essay on LGBTQIA rights. The assignment was to craft a letter “to society” about something the student wanted to talk about, then the letters would be collected into a book and sent home. For this Fourth Grader, she chose to talk about the unfair treatment of many in the LGBTQIA community and used her essay as an opportunity to advocate for tolerance. The principal said that the topic was “not acceptable” and, without irony, forced the girl to write about bullying instead.

From the essay:

I don’t know if you know this but peoples view on Tran’s genders is an issue. People think that men should not drees like a women, and saying mean things. They think that they are choosing the wrong thing in life. In the world people can choose who they want.

According to local news reports, the lawsuit explains the student and her mother are “proud advocates of LGBTQ rights” and the student wanted to use her essay “to help society learn to treat members of the LGBTQ community equally.” The lawsuit also explains Principal Elizabeth Foster instructed her to write about something else, so she wouldn’t “make other parents upset.”

One local news report also mentioned that people have commented on the schools Facebook page saying the girl’s essay was age inappropriate. But why? Why is an essay about tolerance and equal rights not appropriate for a fourth grader?

National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) explains the continually reoccurring phenomenon of describing books, comics, even lesson plans that contain mention the existence of LGBTQIA individuals as inherently inappropriate. They explain that often people conflate sexual-identity with sex.

Advocates of censorship often complain that even referring to sexual preference—or acknowledging the existence of more than just heterosexuality—is sexually suggestive. Some challengers even argue that a picture book showing two male penguins adopting an egg together is a sexually inappropriate
story for children. This can lead to youth being denied access to important lessons about acceptance of meaningful expressions of love and intimacy.

The LGBTQIA community has been doing its best to educate people that it is a community based around love, hence the motto emblazoned on everything each June “Love is Love.” And there is no age at which love is inappropriate. The existence of humans who love other humans isn’t something dirty, it’s a part of our society. And this fourth grader understood that in a way that even her principal could not. By shutting down her voice, and forcing her to write about something else, she proved the girl’s point: that the LGBTQIA community is not treated equally or fairly by everyone in society.

CBLDF is a proud partner of NCAC’s #UncensoredPride campaign. You can read more about it at


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