An Oregon teenager is suing his high school after being told he can no longer wear a shirt that promotes Donald Trump and the proposed border wall along the Mexican border, The Oregonian is reporting.
Earlier this year, Addison Barnes picked out a special shirt to wear to his first-period “People and Politics” class, on a day where he knew the topic of discussion was going to be immigration. The shirt he picked out makes clear his own feelings on the matter.
“Donald J. Trump Border Wall Construction Co. The wall just got 10 feet taller.”
Assistant principal Amanda Ryan-Fear showed up to the classroom sometime later and escorted Barnes to her office, where she told the teenager that a couple of other students in the class were offended by the shirt. She demanded that he cover it up, which he did – at first.
A while later, while still in class, Barnes though better of it and uncovered the shirt. A school security guard then showed up and escorted him out of the classroom.
Back in the principal’s office, Barnes says in his lawsuit, which you can read in its entirety here, he was threatened with suspension for “defiance.” He was then told he could cover up the shirt or go home. He chose to go home.
— Sonny P. Fontaine (@SonnyPFontaine) May 22, 2018
Originally, Barnes’ trip home that day was put on his record as a suspension. However, when Barnes’ father met with the principal and assistant principal a few days later to discuss it, the suspension was removed. But the school officials remain steadfast: they told Barnes and his father that the lad is not to wear the shirt to school again.
Barnes responded by filing a lawsuit.
In the suit, Barnes points out that political messages are allowed at Liberty High School – if they meet an approved viewpoint, he claims. For example, at least one classroom poster references the immigration debate, from another point of view.
“Sanctuary City, Welcome Home.”
In the lawsuit, Barnes says that the First Amendment protects his right to express his opinion, even if his classmates and school officials don’t like it.
“The First Amendment protects students’ right to speak on political or societal issues — including the right to express what school officials may consider unpopular or controversial opinions, or viewpoints that might make other students uncomfortable.”
Barnes is asking for an injunction to force the school to enforce the dress code in a consistent manner, as well as unspecified monetary damages.