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Catholic school withdraws threat to expel student who displayed Planned Parenthood sticker on laptop

(Wikimedia Commons/Charlotte Cooper)Planned Parenthood Rally in New York City, 2011.

A Catholic school in Connecticut has decided not to expel a student who had displayed a sticker promoting Planned Parenthood on her laptop.

Kate Murray, a sophomore at the Sacred Heart Greenwich school, was initially told that she had to remove a sticker that read "I stand with Planned Parenthood" from her laptop if she wants to continue attending the school next year.

The sophomore student did remove the sticker and continued attending class as her family protested the school's decision.

On Monday, Murray's parents announced that the school had reversed its decision and is now allowing the sophomore student to display the sticker on her laptop.

"Kate has chosen to continue to display the sticker and is happy to remain a part of such a special community. We are moved by the outpouring of support by the alumnae and the community at large and are heartened by its encouragement of one young woman's voice," Murray's mother, Tracy, wrote in an email on Monday, as reported by Greenwich Time.

Sacred Heart Head of School Pamela Juan Hayes explained that the reversal of the decision was about the "freedom of expression."

"[W]e would never dismiss a student for what she believes or a cause she supports and will not now," Hayes wrote in an op-ed published in Stamford Advocate.

She noted that the school discourages students from displaying political stickers, banners and buttons on campus and sometimes instructs students to remove them.

Hayes acknowledged that not all stickers are controversial or offensive, but said that some displays can have "unintended consequences" in an academic setting.

"Stickers, banners and buttons will always play a role in our public discourse. But on the campus and in the classrooms of Sacred Heart Greenwich, we'll continue to do our best to keep that role as unobtrusive as possible," she said.

Murray's situation had caught the attention of some alumnae of the school, many of whom sent letters to the administration express their disappointment about the original decision. A petition in support of Murray had been signed by more than 2,800 people as of 4:00 p.m. Monday.

Bishop Frank Caggiano of the Diocese of Bridgeport had voiced his support for the school's initial decision to expel Murray from the school if she refused to remove the Planned Parenthood sticker.

The diocese had previously said in a statement that the school should affirm the church's opposition to abortion while respecting the rights of students to question and challenge moral and ethical issues.

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