N.S. school board reverses ban on `offensive' Christian T-shirt
By Sheila Dabu Nonato, Postmedia News May 4, 2012
A Grade 12 student who was suspended after wearing a T-shirt with a Christian slogan apparently deemed offensive by some teachers and students is no longer banned from wearing it to his Nova Scotia school.
The South Shore Regional School Board confirmed Friday that the student can wear the T-shirt when he returns to school on Monday and that discussions with students will begin that same day about ``expressing beliefs in a complex multicultural school environment.''
William Swinimer was suspended by his principal at Forest Heights Community School in Chester Basin, west of Halifax, for five days after he refused to stop wearing a T-shirt with the slogan ``Life is wasted without Jesus.''
In media reports, Swinimer vowed to return to school on Monday wearing the T-shirt, citing the right to freedom of expression under the charter.
A school-wide discussion with a board-appointed facilitator is planned for May 7 at the school.
``The discussions with students will include discussions of any slogans worn to school on Monday that express personal beliefs and how we discuss those that may be offensive to other students,'' said Supt. Nancy Pynch-Worthylake in an email to Postmedia News. ``Our focus will not be on discipline but rather on discussing and learning together.''
The board said interested students and their families are also invited Monday evening to have similar discussions ``on messaging that can be interpreted in a number of ways.''
According to the board, the discussion isn't really about the contested T-shirt but ``a broader discussion of how to express our beliefs in a respectful manner and how we deal with concerns about that message.''
In a previous interview, Pynch-Worthylake said the T-shirt was interpreted by some teachers and students at the school as a ``criticism of their beliefs.''
``While we may differ on the interpretation of a message, the priority is to provide an opportunity to learn how to express beliefs and concerns,'' she said in a Friday statement.
According to board policy, ``students may choose to wear clothing that embraces their beliefs. However, it is expected that students will not wear clothing with messages that may offend others' beliefs, race, religion, culture or lifestyle.''http://www.canada.com/school+board+reve ... story.html