This isn’t the Los Angeles Unified School District, either, but a school in relatively conservative Orange County that seems to have a strange and inconsistent notion of stamping out images of firearms. Sophomore Haley Bullwinkle had already worn the NRA t-shirt she received as a gift from her father to her high school several times without anyone questioning her about it. Last week, though, she got sent to the principal’s office and was told she had to remove it because the T-shirt from the nation’s largest gun-safety instruction organization promoted gun violence.
What about the school’s drill team, Haley’s father wondered, which twirls fake rifles? And for that matter, the school’s mascot — a Native American warrior?
Principal Kimberly Fricker responded in an email, which said, in part, “The shirt had a gun on it, which is not allowed by school police. It’s protocol to have students change when they’re in violation of the dress code.”
The girl’s father, who has retained an attorney, now wants to know how the school defines violence. He said the drill team is allowed to twirl fake rifles and the mascot is a Comanche.
“I think that if you consider the hunter, the image of the hunter to be offensive, certainly there are groups that would consider the Comanche Indian chief to be offensive,” he said.
Well, mostly busybody groups that largely don’t include Native Americans among their supporters, but that’s beside the point at the moment. While schools certainly have a right to set dress codes, the idea that an NRA shirt would lead to violence is patently absurd and completely irrational. If the school doesn’t want T-shirts advocating any organization other than the school, that might be a reasonable standard, but it doesn’t get to single out legitimate groups just on the basis of political unpopularity, especially with the absurd argument that the NRA promotes gun violence.
This clearly looks like an attempt to impose political correctness on students rather than consistent and reasonable discipline, and yet another example of zero tolerance replacing adult judgment and responsible stewardship in public schools.
Update: The school district apologized to the student and told the school to back off. I have the update in the Green Room.