Oregon School Heeds PJI Warning, Allows Student Speech on “Day of Silence”

Springfield, OR – A public high school that reportedly suppressed student speech on last year’s “Day of Silence” opted to change its approach after facing the threat of legal action from Pacific Justice Institute.

Students at Thurston High School in Springfield, Oregon, recently contacted PJI because they had been ordered to remove shirts with the message “Straight Pride” during the pro-LGBT “Day of Silence” last April. The students complied at that time rather than face suspension but knew that their First Amendment rights were being violated. PJI agreed, and sent a letter to Principal Ed Mendelssohn last week in advance of this year’s Day of Silence on April 15. In the letter, PJI Staff Attorney Matthew McReynolds pointed to Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit precedent strongly favoring student expression.

In response, PJI has learned that school officials contacted all staff at Thurston High and indicated that, unlike the previous year, “Straight Pride” shirts would be allowed, due to the PJI letter. The student represented by PJI was allowed to peacefully express his viewpoint.

Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, commented, “We are encouraged that Thurston High chose to discontinue its suppression of student speech rather than face legal action. The Supreme Court has said that students are not closed-circuit recipients of only messages approved by the government, so no student should be forced to remain silent when confronted with propaganda that clashes with his or her beliefs.”