A Florida junior high school is apologizing after making a student turn his pro-Republican T-shirt inside out, WJXT-TV (Jacksonville) is reporting.
Last week, Kirby-Smith Middle School in Jacksonville held its annual Spirit Week, and on one of the days asked the kids to dress up as “nerds.” The boy’s mother, who asks that neither she nor her son be identified by name, said that her son wanted to use the occasion to show his support for his political affiliation.
“It was nerd day, so he wanted to be a Republican nerd.”
To that end, the lad showed up wearing a red shirt with the traditional symbol of the Republican Party – an elephant. That is until school officials made him turn it inside out, according to Yahoo News.
“He was home from school, and he told me, ‘Mommy, I got in trouble. I was told to turn my shirt inside out.’ I said why, and he said, ‘Because the dean of my school told me to turn it inside out.'”
The outraged mother started making phone calls in order to find out which section of the school dress code her son supposedly violated. In fact, he hadn’t violated any. The school’s dress code, which is available online for anyone and everyone to see, mentions nothing about clothing advocating political parties or agendas.
The only part of the dress code that even comes close is this sentence.
“Students may not wear any clothing or display any items which are obscene, profane, suggestive or derogatory to others.”
Once school officials realized that a mistake had been made, the mother says, she got an apologetic phone call. The student was apologized to as well.
Once the media started taking an interest in this story, Duval County Public Schools issued a public statement clarifying the situation. They first noted that the kid did not receive a dress code violation for the incident and will not have a disciplinary strike on his record. The statement also noted that the staff member who made the lad turn his shirt inside out did so in a “momentary act of confusion,” possibly because the employees’ dress code prohibits them from wearing clothing that advocates political agendas.
The mother says that her son will wear the shirt to school again.
In public schools nationwide, students are generally free to wear clothing that makes political statements (excluding in schools with uniforms or with dress codes that specify garments that don’t have words or pictures on them). As Public School Review notes, several courts have held that kids in public schools have that right and that administrators can’t deny kids that right.