Hate Preacher So Sad School Won't Let His Daughter Wear Homophobic Shirt To School
Practically everyone, at some point in their life, has run afoul of school dress codes. My infractions were largely related to my height and the inability of my principal to understand that a general rule barring shorts or skirts three inches above one's knee was ridiculous because of how people are different heights, but other kids got in trouble for other things. I recall many inside-out "Co-Ed Naked Sports" T-shirts throughout middle school.
Recently, in Livingston, Tennessee, Brielle Penkoski, the daughter of hate preacher and "Warrior for Christ" Rich Penkoski, was asked to change out of a T-shirt reading "Homosexuality Is A Sin," and now he wants to sue the school for violating her First Amendment rights.
While the school allows students and teachers to "promote pride," Penkoski's daughter was "told to leave" because she wore apparel expressing a dissenting viewpoint on the hot-button topic, he argued.
"She wanted to do this on her own. She wanted to go there to … express her values like all the other kids do," he added. "They've got kids walking around with the pride symbol on their sneakers and pride clothing and nobody bats an eye."
"She was basically censored," Penkoski continued. "It's not fair … that she's told that she can't wear that shirt and other people can wear the stuff that they wear."
Penkoski argues that teachers "are pushing Joe Biden … [and] pushing the rainbow stuff."
"But if a Christian comes up there and repeats what the Bible says, they are seen as intolerant, they are seen as hateful," he added. "Simply saying 'homosexuality is a sin' is not hate speech. That's what the Bible says. And we need to start preaching truthfully."
Huh! It's almost as if a person expressing pride is very different from a person expressing hatred of that person, or as if insulting people is different from not insulting people?
I took the initiative of looking up that particular passage in the Bible (it is the one right before Two Corinthians!), and it is a whole list of people who are apparently not allowed into inherit the kingdom of God (I assume this means "go to heaven"?), and yet for some reason, the only one of that group that Penkoski felt necessary to target were gay people. She did not wear a shirt saying that all people who get drunk are going to hell, because that list would likely include a lot of Christians. (Pssst, so does "gay people.")
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
Rich Penkoski is, in fact, very fond of Donald Trump, which is super weird because I am pretty sure he is several of those things.
And frankly, Rich Penkoski himself seems a little like an extortionist. Practically all mentions of him in the news are of him threatening to sue the public schools his children attend for various reasons, which The Christian Post did acknowledge (though it seems they did so in admiration).
Two years ago, he expressed outrage after his daughter received a homework assignment asking her to practice writing the Islamic declaration of faith in Arabic calligraphy. At the time, his daughter was attending middle school in Gerrardstown, West Virginia.
Earlier in that particular school year, Penkoski's daughter was shown a music video featuring two male students sleeping together and a close-up of a sex toy.
Late last year, after Penkoski and his family moved to Sullivan County, Tennessee, he said that his 7-year-old son brought home a flyer promoting a clinic that would provide access to "free birth control and pre-pregnancy services."
The music video in question was actually Logic's 1-800-273-8255 (also the number of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline). It depicts a young man struggling with people not accepting his being gay and a scene in which he is bullied by having a dildo taped to the inside of his locker. It's actually a really lovely and heartbreaking video and it sure seems like a pretty crappy thing to pitch a fit over. It's people like Penkoski and his daughter who make videos like that necessary in the first place.
Here's what I think should happen. I actually think that Penkoski's daughter should be allowed to wear that shirt, but only if every other student in the school gets to wear a T-shirt that says "Brielle Penkoski is a fucking asshole." If she likes, they can all claim that it is their religion. Otherwise, she'll have to just wear the shirt on her own time.
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. In addition to her work at Wonkette, she also has a biweekly column at Dame. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse