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An LGBTQ+ student was suspended for rapping an anti-gay slur. He’s suing the school.

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A 17-year-old student in Upstate New York is suing his school district after he was suspended for using an anti-gay slur in a rap song. The twist: the student says he is a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

According to Lower Hudson Valley outlet The Journal News, the lawsuit filed in federal court earlier this week argues that Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, New York, violated the student’s First Amendment rights when officials suspended him for three days for violating the district’s policy against hate speech.

The punishment reportedly stemmed from a free-style rap song the student recorded off-campus at a friend’s home in 2022. The song’s lyrics included the words “twink” and “f***ot,” which the suit claims the student was using ironically as a way to “reclaim a word that has been used as a slur against him and the LGBTQ community in general.”

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The friend later posted the song online without the student’s knowledge, and the student was suspended after Horace Greeley High School received two anonymous complaints identifying him as one of the people behind the song.

In addition to the suspension, the school also required the student to undergo psychological evaluation, the New York Post reports, due to the song’s references to violence. The lawsuit claims that the song and its lyrics were “intentionally over-the top parodies of rap music’s obsession with violence, crime, and sexuality.” The student was deemed not to be a threat but was suspended because of his use of the anti-gay slurs, which the district considers hate speech.

The student has also reportedly argued that his college applications will be negatively affected by the suspension.

The lawsuit cites a 2021 Supreme Court decision that established that schools have a narrow interest in regulating student speech off-campus, granting students greater First Amendment protections for such speech.

“I think the school goes beyond its authority to stop students from engaging in this type of speech-related activity when there is no clear connection between their communications and anything related to a special need of the school,” Pace University constitutional law professor Bennett Gershman told the paper. “The school really has no place here unless it directly affects academics in school or individuals in school.”

The Chappaqua school district issued a statement Tuesday, according to the Post, in which it stood by the suspension. “We believe the incident in question was handled both appropriately and legally,” a district spokesperson said.


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