A devout Christian has received a two-week suspension from his Nova Scotia high school for refusing to remove a T-shirt that displays the words, “Life is wasted without Jesus.”
William Swinimer, Grade 12, says his school principal gave him the option to either stop wearing the shirt in school or get suspended. Swinimer chose the suspension.
Forest Heights Community School in Chester Basin, Nova Scotia, Canada, is a public high school. The administration’s position is that Swinimer’s shirt is offensive to students who don’t share his Christian beliefs. Swinimer rejects that interpretation and asserts that he’s simply exercising his rights to freedom of expression and freedom of religion.
“I believe there are things that are bigger than me. And I think that I need to stand up for the rights of people in this country, and religious rights and freedom of speech," Swinimer told CBC in an interview.
Swinimer has been warned that if he shows up to school again in the offending shirt, he will be suspended for the remainder of the year. Undeterred, the matriculating senior has vowed he will wear the shirt on the day in question.
Growing nervous about the media attention, South Shore Regional School Board officials are already planning to parlay with Swinimer and hopefully broker a compromise solution.
What do you think? Does Swinimer have the right to wear the shirt when and where he pleases? Or is it too proselytizing for public school?