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Student Asked to Cover Pro-Trump Shirt is Suing School District
Back in the olden days - the 1990s - teachers couldn't express their political opinion. Not so much in Trumpy times (see CA High School Magazine Shows Trump as Nazi, Cops as KKK and High School History Teacher goes on Anti-Trump Political Rant…). I can't say I'm surprised a student got into trouble for wearing a pro-Trump shirt. I also can't say I'm surprised it's on camera.
The lawsuit about the school violating his First Amendment rights is different though.
Barnes wore the offending shirt to his politics class on a day they were scheduled to discuss immigration. According to the suit, the assistant principal told Barnes that his shirt—which reads "Donald J. Trump Border Wall Construction Co.," followed by "The Wall Just Got 10 Feet Taller" (a quote from Trump's primary debate days)—was offensive to the teacher of the class and to at least one student.
She told him cover up the shirt if he wanted to return to class, which he did. But once back in class, Barnes again unveiled the t-shirt—this time prompting a visit from the school's security guard, who took him to the assistant principal's office. She allegedly threatened Barnes with suspension if he did not cover up his t-shirt. When he still wouldn't comply, she issued a suspension and sent him home.
In his suit against the Hillsboro School District and Liberty High School, Barnes accuses officials of "suppression of a student's political speech based on other students' and teachers' alleged discomfort with the ideas and message" that the speech conveyed.
I'm not sure about it being a First Amendment issue. My understanding is that schools are allowed to control dress codes. If someone is wearing something offensive, especially just for the sake of offending, they can be told to change. Would we be here if a leftist student was told their "BLACK LIVES MATTER" shirt was distracting? Oh sure we would, but not in the same context. School is for learning. And if there's a dress code about "no political messages" on shirts, then the Black Lives Matter shirt shouldn't be worn, and nor should the Pro Trump shirt.
The rub is that the rules are not applied equally. Would the teacher have thrown out a student for wearing a "Trump is a pendejo" shirt? Something pussyhat related? I have my serious doubts.