Student Sues School for Banning Biblical Shirt While Allowing LGBTQ Speech


A Tennessee high school student has filed a lawsuit against Overton County School District (OCS) for banning her Biblical shirt while allowing other free speech. The shirt read: “HOMOSEXUALITY IS A SIN – 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.”

OCS claimed that the student’s shirt violated Livingston Academy dress code policy. Although the policy doesn’t define “offensive messages” or “sexual connotations,” Principal Richard Melton determined that the student’s shirt fell under those criteria.

The Bible verse referenced on the shirt lists those who won’t inherit God’s kingdom due to sin, including homosexuals.

The lawsuit shared that the student was removed from a class with foreign language teacher Stephen Henson. Melton informed the student that she either had to change her shirt or go home. The principal informed the student and her parents that the shirt could be perceived as “sexually connotative” because the word “sex” was visible on the shirt.

The lawsuit alleged that at the time of the incident Henson had a “pro-homosexual symbol” displayed in the classroom.

Following its account of events, the lawsuit stated that other students had joked about sex in front of teachers, including Henson, and weren’t subject to disciplinary action. It also reported that other students had been allowed to wear clothing bearing “Virginity Rocks,” “LGBT+ pride,” guns, or pride rainbows.

Following the incident, the student’s father, Richard Penkoski, posted about the incident on various social media platforms. TikTok promptly removed the video of the student for promoting “hate speech.”

This isn’t the family’s first run-in with Big Tech censorship. Penkoski is a preacher whose Facebook page promoting his organization, Warriors for Christ (WFC), was removed due to hate speech.

A year prior, LGBTQ+ activists targeted the family for WFC content. Police advised the family to move out of West Virginia due to escalating threats of violence and death.

Both OCS and the Penkoski family shared that counsel advice limits them from speaking about the case at this time.

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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Livingston Academy” by Livingston Academy.







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One Thought to “Student Sues School for Banning Biblical Shirt While Allowing LGBTQ Speech”

  1. John

    It is illegal to suppress the religious freedom of a student, when it is student led. But a shirt like this is meant to provoke (even if it is true). The LGBTQXYZ shirt is equally provocative/politically charged and should not have been allowed. This issue is easily solved. It’s called a dress code. No student is allowed to wear shirts with writing on them.

    I know a few teachers who teach in Metro and the schools have become nothing more than a holding place for juveniles until they either ‘graduate’ or enter the justice system. A lot of the teachers are afraid of the students. Rules aren’t enforced. There is no such thing as teamwork among the faculty. I could go on and on. Someone needs to clean house, from top to bottom. But I know it isn’t going to be Comrade Cooper, or Bill “Asleep at the wheel’ Lee.

    I strongly believe the reason for the deterioration of schools is twofold. 1. The breakdown of the family. -and- 2. Past and current mayors ignoring the suburbs, allowing them to crumble, while spending every last dime the city has on bullsh** like soccer stadiums, and other useless garbage for downtown. The people who can afford to move, move to one of the surrounding counties, while the poor are left behind. And what do you have left? Another Chicago Detroit in the making.