Kolton Hala just wanted to show his social media followers guns that he thought were cool — nothing more, nothing less. However, his high school took a different interpretation of his social media posts showing various guns and banned him from prom, Yahoo News is reporting.
The past year hasn’t been kind to the Anchorage 18-year-old. Last October, as the Alaska Star reported at the time, the teen was at a family gathering when he tried to start a fire. Things went wrong, and he wound up in the hospital with third-degree burns. His recovery forced him to drop out of school, and he instead earned his GED.
Still, he was hoping that he’d be able to attend the senior prom this Saturday at his old high school, Eagle River High School in suburban Anchorage, for what would have been his senior year. Though not a student, he would have attended as a friend’s date, according to Anchorage Daily News.
However, it appears that his social media posts have made him unwelcome at the public school. The young man tells the newspaper that a school resource officer called him and told him that he is barred from prom at the school. Members of the public, it seems, were concerned about Kolton’s social media posts and thought he might jeopardize the safety of the attendees at the prom. Parents called to complain, with some saying their teens wouldn’t attend if Hala were allowed to be there. School officials made the decision to ban the teen from prom.
The content of those social media posts? Photos of guns.
For my son Kolton Kolton Hala Medical https://t.co/iABsUfqDdC
— Jamie Keebler (@TiggerAlaska) October 31, 2016
That’s it. No threats. No names. Very little commentary beyond some words about the Second Amendment. Just photos of guns.
“It’s a gun that I like, that’s all it is.”
Unfortunately, those photos were followed by a poorly-timed tweet about his intention to attend the prom, which included the words “try not to get offended.” He told the newspaper that there was no threat hidden in those words: rather, he says, he was planning to wear a tuxedo of the American flag.
“Some people don’t like the American flag.”
Hala believes Eagle River administrators violated his First Amendment rights to free speech, as well as Due Process, by denying him the opportunity to attend the prom based on social media posts. However, Anchorage School District deputy superintendent Mark Stock says guest passes to prom are not a right, but a privilege that can be revoked at any time.
“The main priority of the principal is to keep the dance drama-free and fun. It’s a junior/senior prom for the current students who are enrolled at Eagle River.”