New York Student Suspended For Wearing NRA Tee Shirt To School

imagesWe previously discussed the free speech implications of the arrest of a student for wearing a NRA tee shirt to school. Now we have another case of a student, Shane Kinney, 16, who has been disciplined for wearing his NRA tee-shirt to the Grand Island High School. Once again, it is not clear why this tee shirt falls under the school’s written prohibition and appears to be content-based censorship by the school.

Shane is an avid hunter and his family are NRA members. His tee shirt depicts the second amendment and the logo for the NRA. He was told to take it off or turn it inside out. He refused and was disciplined with a one-day suspension. He was technically disciplined for the refusal, but there still remains the issue of censorship.

I would hope that the school would not force a student to remove an ACLU/First Amendment tee shirt. The Second Amendment has now been recognized as another individual right like free speech for citizens. The problem was the NRA logo with two guns on it. However, it is hard to see how such an image would “disrupt or interfere with the educational process” or “encourage …violent activities.”

The Kinney’s have said that they will not push the issue and their son will not wear such shirts to the school in the future. They called this a “learning opportunity.” However, I am a bit worried about the lesson being taught. Shane stood up for his right to free speech and I still do not see the basis for the ban on the tee shirt. The lesson appears to be that you have to comply with the arbitrary, content-based restrictions of the government.

3t_lawrenceGrand Island Superintendent of Schools Terese Lawrence issued this statement:

The Grand Island School District recognizes this matter as an opportunity to review its policies, procedures and actions to ensure that they are consistent with our commitment to provide a safe learning environment and protect students’ Constitutional rights.

I reiterate, no student was disciplined for wearing a shirt expressing a position on the NRA or gun control.

That sounds like a bit of a spin if he is being disciplined not for the tee shirt but refusing to remove the tee shirt. That is like the government saying that a blog was not shutdown for its writings but refusing to remove its writings. The original question remains: why is a tee shirt supporting a constitutional right and associating with a large non-for-profit organization prohibited? I would think that students feeling strongly about constitutional rights and active in such organizations would be encouraged rather than prohibited. Presumably, a tee shirt espousing religious or press freedoms would not trigger the same response. I recently wrote a column on the shrinking student free speech rights — a trend that the Supreme Court has accelerated with a serious of wrongheaded opinions, in my view. Regardless of how one feels about the NRA or gun rights, I feel this case reflects that trend and denies students their free expression and associational rights.

What do you think?

39 thoughts on “New York Student Suspended For Wearing NRA Tee Shirt To School”

  1. Sick! I’m proud of my NRA logo on my Prius, especially when in So Cal where they don’t know anything. I bet they let the kids wear sick vampire & skull T shirts too.

  2. The content on the shirt did NOT violate the dress code (read the article at the link). He was suspended for insubordination when he refused to take it off when so directed.

    1. bettykath wrote: ” He was suspended for insubordination when he refused to take it off when so directed.”

      Somebody should give the boy a medal. Nobody should obey unlawful orders. Feminism has destroyed our school system.

  3. David, Competition would help solve this problem, and MANY others in the education industry.

  4. David,
    Competition has absolutely nothing to do with it. The problem is authoritarian personalities who can be found anywhere and everywhere. Same with school administrators who may be terrified of criticism, which as I said upthread, makes them more concerned about getting their contract renewed than doing the right thing.

    1. A problem in every authoritarian hierarchy, Add in the legalization of the initiation of force and you’re going to get a top down system where such things as attorneys are unwilling to challenge the IRS for fear of retaliation, even when the law is on the Citizens side. .

    2. Chuck, competition would help solve the problem of authoritarians because parents would yank their kids out and move them to a better school when they act this way. Rather than being terrified about their contract renewal, they would be more beholden toward serving the public.

  5. School authorities are out of control. When will we wake up and introduce competition into the school system? Parents should be given vouchers so they can choose the school they want their child to attend. This would stop problems like this and increase the level of education offered by our tax dollars.

  6. The kids need to get some guts. They should show up en mass, no pun intended, in Mao suits. No emblems. Mao hats. Hats off at the door. That is Monday. On Tuesday they should wear Hitler Youth outfits without the medals or emblems. On Wednesday it is Priest and Nun Day. Thursday, Cardinal Day, as in baseball, no emblems. Friday, Cherokee Day.
    Vote those board members off the school board and find some Americans.

  7. The only logic I can see is perhaps the school has a zero policy on all t-shirts with any type of saying or picture. In which case, the student knew the rule of the school. If that is not the case, then once again we see a persons rights being stifled.

    1. Agreed. If you ban shirts with writing on them, is that not also denying the right to free speech and expression? How can a school be allowed to set such a policy. To me that’s like banning bumper stickers or prohibiting the wearing of a cross or a Star of David on ones necklace. God forbid we allow freedom of expression by.our children. We can’t allow that!!!!

      I just want to shack some people – what do they not understand about the protection of individual rights and it’s significance to a civil society? And people wonder why we see so much uncivilized activities in our society.

  8. bettykath, Great to see you. Hope you stick around. I never pictured you as an RVer.

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