Maquoketa Students to Support Gay Rights After T-Shirt Confusion

By Katie Wiedemann, Reporter

MAQUOKETA, Iowa - A T-shirt is causing confusion at Maquoketa High School. It has the word "gay" on it- and administrators say they couldn't tell if the shirt was making fun of or supporting gay rights.

Early last week Ali Lai wore a shirt to school that read "I Heart Lady Gay Gay." Lai said, "I mean "gay" that's not inappropriate. At least I don't think it's inappropriate. But it could catch the eye of some people and make them mumble a few words."

He says the shirt is in reference to Pop Star Lady Gaga, who's also an activist for gay rights.

The school's Assistant Principal told Lai to change his shirt or turn it inside out. The Superintendent stands by that decision. But admits, administrators didn't know what the expression meant. Superintendent Kim Huckstadt said, "Not knowing if it was an item that was either in support of or if it was actually derogatory."

Another student thinks this is an example of Maquoketa High School violating a student's rights. So, she organized what she's calling "gay is okay day".

On Thursday students will wear t-shirts to make a statement of solidarity.

Raina Costello said, "We are thinking about 30. And more people said they would write gay on their arms and other articles of clothing." Costello says administrators should have done the research before making Lai change his shirt.

But state anti-bullying laws require schools to protect gay students from threats. Huckstadt said, "If anything this is also a learning experience for us."

A generational gap that brought these students together.

Lai says he wore the "Lady Gay Gay" shirt again last Friday. He said that time administrators did not make him take it off.
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