Report: Principal Boots Student Wearing Trump Jersey at 'America Night' Football Game
At one North Carolina high school, “patriotic” apparently doesn’t mean the president.
According to WTVD, ABC 11 in Durham, an 18-year-old student was ordered to change a jersey he wore with the name “Trump” and the number “45” for a football game Friday night, then marched off the premises by the school’s principal.
And his father isn’t happy about it at all.
“I think any mother or father would feel like I feel,” Mike Collins told the news station.
“We don’t want any kids violated. We don’t want to see kids embarrassed over something like this,” Collins said. “He was not disrespectful. He was not acting in a manner that would cause attention to him.”
According WTVD, the theme during Harnett Central High School’s game included spectators in the student section being asked to dress patriotically for “USA America” night.
The “Trump” jersey – which was given to his son by a family friend — must not have fit the bill, Collins told the station. He said the school’s principal asked his son, Matthew, to remove the jersey.
A father tells me his son was asked by the school principal to remove this jersey during a patriotic-themed football game after people complained. Dad, a registered Democrat, says his son complied but felt humiliated. @HarnettCoSchool says it supports expression not disruptions pic.twitter.com/W9U9v2vBLF
— Tim Pulliam (@TimABC11) October 10, 2018
In an interview with the conservative website Big League Politics, Matthew himself described a situation that should dismay any American — but especially high school students and their parents. HIs description is long, but worth reading every word:
“I was minding my own business talking with friends and cheering on my high school football team. I never walked to the bathroom nor committed any action that would draw attention to myself …,” Matthew Collins said.
“I was standing on the front row and people were standing behind me making it very hard to see the back of my shirt. So half time comes around and Mrs. Gordon (the principal) singled me out and pointed at me telling me to come towards her. I walk towards her as requested when she says ‘Do you have another shirt you can change into?’. I respond ‘yes but why’. Gordon then says ‘parents are complaining about your shirt’ I make the statement of ‘why? He is the president of the United States and it is America Night’. She responded with ‘its political’. I came back at her with ‘how is it political? He is our president and it’s America Night’. She then stated ‘change the shirt’. As this conversation was going on, she was walking me to the front gate. However, instead of taking the stairs right beside the student section, she walked me in front of the entire stadium.
“The student section is located near the end zone of one side of the field and she walked me to the staircase at the complete other end of the field in front of everyone. I then make the statement to Mrs. Gordon that ‘if Obama’s name was on the back of this jersey, you wouldn’t have a problem with it’ She froze up and honestly didn’t know what to say. She walked me to the gate and asked ‘if I payed’ because she was going to give me my money back. I said no and walked to my truck. At this point, I was so furious I almost had tears coming out. Mr. Booker (assistant principal) ran after me making the statement of ‘don’t let them win’ and ‘come back in the game just without the jersey’. He then says ‘it’s just parents complaining non stop’. I then respond ‘those parents are what’s wrong with America’ and he agreed with me. I eventually walk back in the game WITHOUT the jersey on because that was the only way I was getting back in. I felt everyone was looking at me therefore, a couple of guys and I completely left. I 100% believe I was discriminated against as well my first amendment right was violated. There were many ways to handle this situation and the way Cindy Gordon did it, was just wrong. She humiliated me and embarrassed me in front of everyone in that stadium.”
So, if Matthew’s account is correct, it means the principal of an American public high school let the opinions of parents complaining trample on a student’s First Amendment rights.
It’s important to note that this didn’t happen in a classroom, in a hallway, or even during school hours. It was at a public event — and one that was supposedly celebrating American freedoms. The irony is appalling.
According to The Daily Record, a newspaper based in Harnett County, the school’s principal, Cindy Gordon, had not returned calls for comment.
In a statement, the Harnett County school district declined to comment on the Collins case directly, but said the district allows students freedom of expression.
“As long as the expression does not disrupt, and is not reasonably expected to disrupt, the educational mission of the school system, these rights include wearing clothing expressing political messages or supporting political candidates,” the statement said, according to WTVD.
This is far from the first time students have had trouble with schools and clothing supporting President Donald Trump.
In New Jersey last year, three students who wore shirts supporting Trump for their high school yearbook photos found out after the books were printed that their pictures had been altered to remove the wording on the shirts.
In Oregon in July, a school district paid $25,000 in legal expenses to the family of a student who was suspended after refusing to cover up a T-shirt supporting Trump’s proposed border wall to class on a day when immigration issues were going to be part of the discussion.
Collins told WTVD that he isn’t considering suing over the incident involving Matthew, though he has consulted with an attorney.
As a registered Democrat, he said there was a principle that should be recognized, though.
“We’re not promoting Donald Trump. He’s our president,” he told WTVD. “Again you’ve got to respect your president. I can assure you that there was nothing about this shirt that was disruptive. I think we should stand up for our rights.”
That sounds patriotic, all right. And it sounds like the president would agree.
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