An eighth-grader has been charged with causing a disturbance at his middle school after his teacher asked him to remove an NRA T-shirt.
Jared Marcum faces charges of obstruction and disturbing the education process after he and a staff member got into an argument over the contents of the student’s shirt. Marcum was reportedly suspended from West Virginia’s Logan Middle School and later arrested. He was also briefly jailed.
According to WOWK-TV, Marcum showed up to school last week wearing a T-shirt with a rifle and the slogan, “Protect your right.” The teenager told the station:
“What they’re doing is trying to take away my rights, my freedom of speech and my Second Amendment.”
Logan County Schools’ dress code, which is posted on the school system’s website, says students must not wear clothing and accessories that display profanity, violence, discriminatory messages or sexually suggestive phrases. Clothing with advertisements for any alcohol, tobacco, or drug product is also forbidden.
Marcum’s father, Allen Lardieri, argues his son has not violated the dress code. He told WOWK-TV‘s Charlo Greene, “I don’t see how anybody would have an issue with a hunting rifle and NRA put on a T-shirt, especially when policy doesn’t forbid it.”
A lawyer for the Marcum family, Ben White, agreed the shirt did not appear to violate school policy. He said, “I just don’t understand why this teacher reacted the way he did. If a teacher is telling you to do something that’s wrong, I don’t think you should follow it. But I also don’t think you need to do it in a disrespectful way.” He added that he felt Marcum had behaved respectfully.
White, who is seeking to have all criminal charges against Marcum dropped, is planning to meet Monday with Principal Ernestine Sutherland.
Reporting on the case, The Christian Science Monitorargues that :
“In the landmark 1969 case, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, the Supreme Court ruled that students could wear black armbands to school to protest the Vietnam War. Students do not ‘shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech at the schoolhouse gate,’ the court said.
“But those rights have been refined and narrowed in the years since. In 2010, a federal appeals court found that a school had not violated the Constitution when it banned a student from wearing a T-shirt with “Freedom of Speech” printed on the front and the text of the First Amendment on the back. The dress code at Waxahachie High School in Texas banned all messages on T-shirts, making the ban content neutral.”
What do you think, readers? Should school dress codes permit clothing with a political message?