Schools are notorious for stripping away students’ individual rights. In this way (and in many other ways), school isn’t like prison – it’s worse than prison.
Case in point: Addison Barnes, a student at Liberty High School in Hillsboro, Oregon, was suspended from school for wearing a pro-Trump, anti-illegal immigration t-shirt to his People and Politics class. Barnes was undoubtedly being deliberately provocative, as he knew his class would be discussing immigration that day. At least one student and one teacher reported feeling “offended” by his choice of attire.
Because offense is subjective, this is a slippery slope that could warrant the banning of all clothing on school grounds (but is nudity offensive? Should we all wear togas? But what color? Do white togas connote nationalism? Are we Nazis?). Schools and other public places are justified in banning items on clothing that are (for now) generally offensive, such as pictures of genitalia or curse words.
The fact that the student was aiming for a reaction is a moot point. Teenagers are always looking to “shake things up,” rebel against the status quo, and make an impact with their words, looks, and behavior. Teenagers in Parkland, FL have been praised by mainstream media outlets for “taking a stand in what they believe in,” after a school shooting earlier this year that left 17 people dead. Discouraging the promotion of one train of thought but promoting another is a violation of one’s freedom of speech and is akin to censorship, something most liberals claim to abhor.
Does everyone love President Trump? Certainly not. Are some people offended by him? Most definitely. It is cause for the banning of a shirt referencing him and his policies in a public school? Not in the slightest. Schools should remain impartial to such things, because they are government run. In this case, the school knew to some extent that their punishment of Mr. Barnes was misguided, because they lifted his suspension. However, they still banned him from wearing the shirt on school property. Does this mean that I can have white shirts banned from school because they offend me? (“Cultural appropriation!”)