Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Virtue Ethics: An Ethical Development Program for High School Youth

Leader Resource 2: The Tee Shirt Pull

Part of Virtue Ethics

Main Street High School has a dilemma. A student wears a tee shirt that some people think is inappropriate, but some do not. The dilemma will be solved by a tug-of-war.

[Bring out the rope.]

A youth wears a tee shirt to school that says, "Gay? Fine by me."

[Pick a volunteer to be the tee shirt wearer. Ask them to hold one end of the rope.]

A parent sees the tee shirt and is upset about the tee shirt, which they say encourages homosexuality in school.

[Choose another volunteer to be the first parent. Position them opposite the tee shirt wearer.]

The parent calls two other parents to protest. [Two volunteers join the parent side.]

These parents call the principal, who sides with them. [Principal joins parents.]

Two friends of the youth start wearing the same tee shirt in protest.

[Two volunteers join tee shirt wearer's side.]

A youth prints tee shirts saying, "Gay? NOT fine by me." They get their friend to wear it with them.

[Two more join the parents' side.]

A couple of parents hear about the ruckus and choose to support their children's freedom of speech.

[Two volunteers join the tee shirt wearer's side.]

The principal takes the issue to the five-member school board, which, hearing mostly from parents, sides with the principal and others who do not want the youth to wear the tee shirt.

[Five people join first parent.]

The youth contacts the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who inform the principal that if any tee shirt with words is allowed in school, they must allow "Gay? Fine by me." tee shirts. The ACLU has over 500,000 members.

[The rest of the group, including facilitators, join the tee shirt wearer's side. This should make that side the winner. If not, invent reasons for people to defect over to the first youth's side, such as "The school board did not want a lawsuit." or "Parents who loved liberty saw the logic of this and stopped the protest."]