A high school senior in Hillsboro, Oregon, is suing the Hillsboro School District after he claims his First Amendment rights were violated when he was asked to cover up a T-shirt supporting a border wall along the U.S. southern border.
According to Willamette Week, the T-shirt said, “Border Wall Construction Company” and featured a quote from President Donald Trump: “The wall just got 10 feet taller.”
Addison Barnes told KGW that he wore the shirt to a politics class at Liberty High School last January, knowing they were going to discuss immigration.
Barnes said after students and a teacher complained, the school’s assistant principal pulled him out of the class room and told him to either cover up the T-shirt or go home.
Barnes said his first instinct was to put a jacket on, but then decided to change his mind.
“I thought to myself, ‘You know this isn't right, this is my First Amendment right to be able to wear this shirt,’” Barnes told KGW. “So, I took off the jacket and the assistant principal had seen that and sent for a security guard to escort me out of class.”
Students told KGW that the school has a large Latino population.
“(The shirt) offended a lot of people,” Liberty High School senior Mark Guzman told KGW. “In the hall, kids would ask me if I’d seen it.”
The lawsuit filed Friday by Barnes’ attorney in U.S. District Court in Portland states that Barnes engaged in a “respectful, silent, and peaceful expression of his political views by wearing a T-shirt,” Willamette Week said.
The Hillsboro School District refused to respond to requests for comment. The ACLU of Oregon told KGW in a statement that “The school clearly crossed the line when it required a student to remove a T-shirt that voiced support for Donald Trump's border wall or face a suspension. This shirt is mean spirited, but it isn't a ‘disturbance’ under First Amendment case law.”
The ACLU also stated that it is “disappointing” that the high school decided to censor the student, instead of using it as an opportunity to discuss immigration.
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