N.S. teen allowed to wear 'Jesus' T-shirt to school
Published Friday, May 4, 2012 10:19PM EDT
A Nova Scotia student at the centre of a controversy about religion and public schools will have the right to wear a shirt with the message: "Life is wasted without Jesus."
William Swinimer was suspended from the Forest Heights Community School in Chester Basin for five days on Monday, after he defied the principal's instruction not to wear a yellow T-shirt sporting the phrase. It was his seventh T-shirt-related suspension in the space of a month.
Swinimer had received support from N.S. Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie, as well as a Bridgewater businessman who donated enough money to have 100 of the T-shirts made.
A facilitator was called to help bridge the divide between Swinimer and the high school, and the suspension was reversed on Friday.
After Swinimer's story grabbed headlines across the country and beyond, Supt. Nancy Pynch-Worthylake told The Canadian Press that a forum was organized for Swinimer and his detractors to debate the issue.
Swinimer had worn the shirt to school several times without incident until, two weeks earlier, he was told another student had complained. That was when he was told to leave the shirt at home.
Swinimer said he never intended to be rude or disrespectful, but he wanted to keep wearing the shirt because he stands behind its message.
"That's my opinion, but under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms I'm allowed to have my opinion and express my opinion," the Grade 12 student told CTV's Canada AM on Friday.
"The only reason I'm wearing the T-shirt continually now is because I'm standing up for my rights as a Canadian citizen."