A high school freshman in New Hampshire was suspended from playing football in September for sharing his views on gender with another student. Now the athlete's family is suing the school district for violating his constitutional right to free speech.
The teenager, identified as M.P., allegedly told another student who attends Exeter High School that there are "only two genders" - male and female - which aligns with his religious beliefs as a Catholic, NH Journal reports.
Assistant Principal Marcy Dovholuk was informed of the private conversation between the teens which led to the student's suspension.
A lawsuit was filed in Rockingham Superior Court on Nov. 4, through Attorney Ian Huyett of Cornerstone Action, a nonprofit Christian advocacy organization. According to Cornerstone, the teenager "did not harass or demean any student, but simply expressed his views on a contentious cultural issue."
The complaint points out, "The student then turned a copy of this text conversation over to Vice Principal Dovholuk, who confronted M.P. with printed copies of the text messages. M.P. was then subject to an athletic suspension."
However, the discussion between the students reportedly occurred off school property; therefore, EHS administrators do not have the right to suspend the student.
The teen's efforts also aim to block the enforcement of Exeter High School's gender-nonconforming student's policy because of what he says is its infringement on his First Amendment rights.
The Portsmouth Herald reports that under the high school's policy, a "student has the right to be addressed by a name and pronoun that corresponds to the student's gender identity." It also contains a provision that states, "the intentional or persistent refusal to respect a student's gender identity … is a violation of this policy."
Exeter Superintendent David Ryan said he is aware of the lawsuit and that the school is "in process of reviewing this complaint with legal counsel and will be able to share a statement once we have completed that review."