Local News

Judge Denies Temporary Restraining Order for Gay Student's Posters

Posted April 27, 2004

— A judge is denying a temporary restraining order requested by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a gay high school student in Wilson.

Jarred Gamwell is running for Hunt High School student body president. The openly gay junior put up campaign signs with phrases like "A Queer Eye for Hunt High" and "Gay Guys Know Everything."

"Mainly to show I wasn't going to discriminate against groups and to show that I was for equal opportunity and fairness in the school," Gamwell said.

Gamwell says his posters disappeared about an hour later. Principal Bill Williamson ordered staff to take them down.

"I felt it was definitely a case of discrimination," Gamwell said. "Obviously, I mean, queer, gay -- how more clear can you get?"

Williamson is not talking about his decision to have the posters removed, but the school system is defending it.

In a written statement, Wilson County Schools says "it is a principal's job to ensure a safe and orderly learning environment." It says "Williamson determined the language on Gamwell's posters was disruptive and had no relevance to the race."

The ACLU says removing the signs violated Gamwell's constitutional rights. Tuesday, the group filed a lawsuit against the school, demanding the posters go back up.

Hunt seniors Jefferey Williams and Zach Spivey say removing the signs was the right thing to do, because sexual orientation has nothing to do with student politics.

"We didn't want this kind of attention to our school towards gay rights," Williams said.

"He's just trying to get attention over the wrong things. That's not really what it's about anyway," Spivey said. The school cancelled campaign speeches scheduled for Tuesday.

"I want a lot of people to be more aware of things that are happening in the schools and I want people to see this is something you should stand up for," Gamwell said.

Hunt High School student body president elections are still scheduled for Wednesday.

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