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Posted Friday, Sep. 23, 2011  Print Reprints

Western Hills student suspended for denouncing homosexuality has punishment reversed

FORT WORTH -- A Western Hills High School student who was suspended from school for saying homosexuality is wrong has had his punishment reversed, according to the boy's mother and attorney.

Freshman Dakota Ary was in German class Tuesday when the discussion turned to religion, and a student in the back of the class asked about that country's views of homosexuality.

"I told my friend that I'm a Christian and I believe being gay is wrong," said Ary, 14. "But the teacher told me I shouldn't say things like that, and he wrote me an infraction. I was surprised. I wasn't discriminating or being a bully. I was just expressing my beliefs."

The teacher sent Ary to the office, where an assistant principal placed him on three-day in-school suspension.

Ary had a First Amendment right to express those views, said his attorney, Matt Krause.

"He was just expressing his viewpoint, and he did it in a very nonhostile, benign way," Krause said.

Holly Pope, the boy's mother, said she was shocked by the suspension.

"He is not a troublemaker or a bully of any kind," she said. "This was in a discussion about religion. ... I knew this subject had come up in class before because he told me last week that the teacher had a picture of two men kissing on a wall that had pictures from across the world."

Pope said that she met with Principal James Wellman on Wednesday morning and that he reversed the suspension. The suspension will not be on Ary's record, she said, and he will be allowed to make up missed class work.

"Mr. Wellman did a good job of trying to rectify the issue," Pope said. "I think by the time he saw the infraction, he was in awe -- as the rest of us -- over what happened."

School district officials said they could not comment on specific employee or student matters.

"We are following district policy in our review of the circumstances, and any resolution likewise will be in accordance with district policy," spokesman Clint Bond said.

Pope said her son did not return to the class Thursday but will continue to study German.

Ary said he's still surprised by the turn of events.

"If the same situation happened, I would say the same thing because it's what I believe and I have a right to freedom of speech," Ary said.