Students from Georgia high schools stand at the Georgia State Capitol after being denied access to public Senate and House galleries. ALAA ELASSAR / AJC

Georgia Capitol to allow ‘expressive clothing’ in chamber galleries

Leaders in the Georgia House and Senate on Monday agreed to allow “expressive clothing” in the chambers’ public galleries. 

The policy change comes after a group of high school students lobbying against gun violence last year was barred from sitting in the chambers’ public galleries on the last day of the legislative session.

Capitol staff told the students, who were wearing shirts that read “March For Our Lives” and “We Can End Gun Violence,” that political stickers and buttons were allowed in the gallery, but shirts were not.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia earlier this year asked House Speaker David Ralston and Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller to revisit the policies on clothing.

“Every Georgian should feel welcomed at the state Capitol to express their opinions on matters that are important to their families and communities,” ACLU of Georgia Executive Director Andrea Young said.

According to the rules of the House gallery posted online Monday, “expressive clothing” is allowed unless it shows “obscenity, pornographic acts, fighting words and/or threats.”

A card that will be distributed to Senate gallery visitors will include the same guidelines.

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