DANDRIDGE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A local student's attempt to celebrate National Coming Out Day could end with a lawsuit against her school.
Hannah Bradley says she wore a name tag identifying her as a "demisexual," and was one of about 30 students wearing them.
But she says her principal at Jefferson County High School forced her to take it off. Now, a national organization is stepping in to help Bradley.
The Southern Poverty Law Center sent a letter straight to the Principal Scott Walker and the Jefferson County Schools Director, threatening legal action if the district doesn't remedy what they say happened to the Jefferson Co. HS senior.
Bradley says the student body had her back on that day, but school administrators didn't.
She says she was sent to the principal's office, which is when he told her to take the name tag off.
"He (Dr. Walker) said, 'You're creating controversy in the school. You have to take these off.' And I said what do you mean, a controversy. He goes, 'Our school is about reading, and math, and biology. We don't have that kind of thing here. We don't promote sexuality or religion,'" said Bradley.
Attorneys with the Southern Poverty Law Center, now representing Hannah, say that attitude is risky business.
"That creates a dangerous environment that can be harmful to all students, regardless if they are LGBT or not," said Attorney Alesdair Ittelson.
But of course, there's always two sides to every story, and Director of Schools Charles Edmonds certainly has his.
He couldn't talk about what happened inside the principal's office, but says the school leads the way against bullying, and students' rights are protected.
"If there's no obscenity, vulgarity, things of that nature, or anything that would disrupt the school, I have no problem," said Dr. Edmonds. "Students have their rights in school. They don't lose their Constitutional rights just because they're students. But we have a right to run schools in a dignified and organized matter, without disruption."
The key word is disruption. Dr. Edmonds says it's a judgment call for administrators to make.
In this case, it was a bad judgment call according to Hannah and her mom.
"I want her to be able to have her own identity in that school. It shouldn't have to be what an administrator has her down as, this is what you're gonna be," said Renae Bradley, Hannah's mom.
Students who spoke to Local 8 News say they support Bradley.
"I think it's wrong what Dr. Walker's doing, because it's not against the law to show who you are, you know," said Keith Adams, a student at Jeff. Co. HS.
Donna Prosise has a granddaughter at the high school, and feels that talk about sexuality should stay at home.
"I don't know, I guess I'm from the old age when everything was personal. So I guess it would be a little difficult for me to decide that. I guess I still think it's a private thing," said Prosise.
Dr. Edmonds says the board's attorney is advising them to not say much on the incident. But the school will respond to the SPLC once they finish the investigation into what happened last week, adding he is "disconcerted" about censoring accusations.
The district has until Monday October 29 to respond to the SPLC. If there's no action taken, the organization is intending to file a lawsuit.