CNN.com - Custom-made fit for school - Aug 12, 2005: "Some schools' move to a more stringent dress code can spark national attention and threats of lawsuits.
In 2004, Timothy Gies, a senior at Bay City Central High School in Michigan, was suspended several times for wearing shirts and sweat shirts with anarchy symbols, peace signs, upside-down American flags and an anti-war quote from Albert Einstein.
He took his case to the the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, and his school discipline was overturned after the ACLU intervened.
'My view and the ACLU view on suppression of political speech in school is that the public schools have a pointed responsibility to prepare students to think critically and participate in our democracy,' says Michael Steinberg, legal director of the Michigan ACLU.
'ACLU opposes dress codes -- we believe students have a right of free expression, a part of which is expressing their individuality through the clothes that they wear,' Steinberg says. 'And parents can control the clothes their children wear, but it should not be a matter that the state dictates.'
But Essex says there has to be a balance.
'We understand school officials are very concerned with school safety, but that has to be balanced with reasonableness, and that's what the courts expect from us -- to be reasonable in terms of what we expect in students,' he says."