opinion

COLUMN: California student’s MAGA hat ultimately breaks dress code



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A child sits on his parent’s shoulders and waves a “Make America Great Again” hat as President Trump exits the stage Aug. 30, 2018, in Evansville, Indiana.  Ty Vinson Buy Photos

A student from Fresno, California, was recently told she could not wear her Make America Great Again hat to school, Fresno local news originally reported

Since then this local story has gained popularity and was picked up by CBS and Fox News

Although this student’s political speech at school is protected under the First Amendment, her hat violated the dress code at Clovis North High School. 

Clovis Unified School District’s dress code reads, “Hats and/or caps and/or sunglasses must be removed in the classrooms or offices.” Hats are considered sun-protective clothing and may be worn outside on campus.

It is clear why this student was not allowed to wear her MAGA hat in the building. Hats of all kinds are simply against the dress code. 

However, in the video included by CBS, the student said that she was told she was not allowed to wear her hat “on campus.” By this wording, it is implied that she was told she could not wear her hat, even outside. 

In 1969, Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines ruled in the favor of students who were suspended for wearing black armbands to silently protest the Vietnam War. The Court held that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

However, students can still be punished for speech that breaks school rules, like attendance policies or dress code. And they cannot “materially disrupt” school function. 

I will not be shy about my dislike of and lack of support for President Trump. But I will defend high school students’ undisruptive support of our current administration because it is protected by the First Amendment. 

However, the ultimate decision lies in whether or not the demonstration has potential to cause disruption. 

This administration is extremely controversial, and it can be argued that the 2016 election was one of the most divisive elections in American history. Because of this, slogans and logos associated with the president are still extremely politically charged and elicit strong responses from many people. 

The school district's dress code states that products or slogans that “create disorder or disrupt the educational process are not allowed.”

It is only somewhat reasonable for the school to defend its decision by claiming the political slogan would cause a strong enough disruption in the classroom to be an issue. 

If the student had worn an anti-Trump hat, I would still believe the school would take issue. 

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