How to Fly Your Pro-life Colors: Know Your Rights

March 13, 2008 09:00 AM
How often do you express your pro-life beliefs with your attire? Do you ever wear a pro-life T-shirt to the grocery store? What about to school or work? Or do you put a pro-life pin on the lapel of your suit?

On National Pro-life T-shirt Day, you can join thousands of fellow pro-lifers who will show their true colors to the world. No matter where you live or work, you can wear some pro-life apparel on Tuesday, April 29.  It’s your right!

In the workplace

Employers can regulate what you wear to work, because they need to make sure the workplace is productive. But if your employer does not have a dress code, why not wear a pro-life T-shirt? Attire is a great way to subtly present a message, and hopefully it will spur some great conversations with your coworkers.

If your office has a dress code, T-shirts probably did not make the cut. But even if you have to wear a suit to work, your employer probably allows jewelry. You could wear a small Precious Feet® pin on your lapel. Or you could wear a pro-life bracelet. Ladies could wear pro-life earrings. The possibilities really are endless here. And because your employer allows jewelry, it would be very difficult for anyone to complain that you are violating the dress code or offending them. How offensive can a tiny pin be?

But while wearing pro-life attire at work, do not forget to respect your employer. Be sure you know what the dress code does and does not allow. If in doubt, ask your supervisor. Since National Pro-life T-shirt Day comes just once a year, perhaps they will make an exception for you.

At school

Students have it easier. Since the government requires mandatory school attendance, students have fairly broad First Amendment rights. As the Supreme Court said in Tinker v. Des Moines, public school students do not “shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse door.”

The Supreme Court generally divides public school speech into three categories:  vulgar, school sponsored, and other speech. Since individual pro-life t-shirts are not sponsored by the public school, and they are not vulgar, they fall into the “other” category.

In this category, students can express themselves as long as they do not “materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school” or invade the rights of others. The standard provides a large burden for the school to overcome, since it must have factual support that a pro-life T-shirt interferes with the school’s discipline. School administrators cannot simply ban pro-life T-shirts because they fear an uncomfortable situation.

For students, this means that pro-life T-shirts should be acceptable within public schools. And National Pro-life T-shirt Day is a great time to wear one. Is there a better way for students to open conversations with their peers?

Around town

Everyone knows that the First Amendment protects our speech and expression while out in public. This generally includes the city park, the grocery store, and most places you run errands.

If you do not have to be at work on National Pro-life T-shirt Day, why not wear a pro-life T-shirt? I am constantly surprised by the number of compliments and words of encouragement I get when wearing my pro-life gear. Everyone from the butcher to the postman has provided positive feedback. And I have never been publicly criticized for pro-life attire.

Join us!

As pro-lifers, we must support each other publicly. We must show our true beliefs and ideals in everything that we do. Wearing a T-shirt enables anyone to easily carry a pro-life message throughout the day.

Please join me and thousands of pro-lifers on April 29 by wearing a pro-life T-shirt.  Join American Life League’s 6th Annual National Pro-life T-shirt Day. You have the right to do it. Wearing a T-shirt is the least we can do for innocent human beings.

To learn more and see this year’s brand new t-shirt, visit

Andrew Flusche is the staff attorney for American Life League.  Andrew is available to answer your questions about pro-life rights, and he welcomes the opportunity to speak to your group.
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