Skip to comments.Seventh Grader Sues School Over Right to Wear Pro-Life T-Shirt
Posted on 07/06/2009 2:01:59 PM PDT by rawhide
A California mom says her public school administrators violated her daughter's First Amendment rights when they ordered the seventh-grader to take off her pro-life T-shirt.
Anna Amador has gone to court on behalf of her daughter, who she says was ordered by her principal to change her shirt on "National Pro-Life T-Shirt Day." The shirt the girl was wearing displays two graphic pictures of a fetus growing in the womb.
The incident occurred in April 2008 at McSwain Elementary School, a K-8 school in Merced, Calif. Amador alleges in her legal complaint that school Principal Terrie Rohrer, Assistant Principal C.W. Smith and office clerk Martha Hernandez mistreated her daughter and denied the girl her First Amendment rights when they ordered her to leave the cafeteria and change her shirt.
"Before Plaintiff could eat [breakfast] she was ordered by a school staff member to throw her food out and report immediately to Defendant Smith's office, located in the main office of McSwain Elementary School," the complaint reads.
"Upon arriving at the main office, Defendant Hernandez, intentionally and without Plaintiff's consent, grabbed Plaintiff's arm and forcibly escorted her toward Smith's office, at all times maintaining a vice-like grip on Plaintiff's arm. Hernandez only released Plaintiff's arm after physically locating her in front of Smith and Defendant Rohrer...
"Smith and Rohrer ordered Plaintiff to remove her pro-life T-shirt and instructed Plaintiff to never wear her pro-life T-shirt at McSwain Elementary School ever again.
"Completely humiliated and held out for ridicule, Plaintiff complied with Defendants' directives and removed her pro-life T-shirt, whereupon, Defendants seized and confiscated it. Defendants did not return Plaintiff's property until the end of the school day.
(Excerpt) Read more at foxnews.com ...
I agree with the school. Children should not be sent to school as walking billboards for any political cause, on the left or right.
If abortion was no big deal then shirts like this wouldn’t cause an controversy.
So where does that leave their ability to speak freely in any medium?
On another note...why is she eating breakfast at school?
“other inappropriate subject matter.”
In other words, whatever the education Nazis don’t like.
Either uniforms, private education or home schooling will solve this problem.
But, if schools tried to “oppress” someone wearing a “gay pride” shirt,
they’d be sued.
We’re just asking for equal time here.
"Graphic"? Isn't that a word you use to describe something violent, immoral, or disgusting? What's a "fetus" supposed to do except grow?
Oh, that's right. Die.
Even if they found the shirt offensive, there was no good reason to make the girl miss her breakfast and be manhandled to the office.
It is a major stretch to deem this T-Shirt has the "suggestion of tobacco, drug or alcohol use, sexual promiscuity, profanity, vulgarity, or other inappropriate subject matter."
Virtually all urban and many rural schools have FREE Breakfast and lunch for all students. Thank you for your generous contribution and help.
Who decides what is/isn't appropriate?
Do they cut pages out of the students' science textbooks as well?
There are quite a few kids in before school care as both mom and dad work. Some of the programs are open as early as 6:30AM so the kids buy breakfast at school.
You wouldn't win that case in court.
Hello. It is politically incorrect. It comes down on the WRONG side of the issue.
“I agree with the school. Children should not be sent to school as walking billboards for any political cause, on the left or right”
Do you think a Che Guevara shirt would cause the teachers to toss her breakfast, and then be detained?
The pictures are "graphic?" Really? A child growing inside the womb is now graphic? Amazing.
He opined long ago that perhaps the best solution is to just out and out say “A kid doesn't have 1st amendment rights at school.”
At first I was appalled at this view. But slowly but surely I am coming around to it.
The law already states that the school is the de facto “parent” while the child is under their care. Parents DO exercise control over the actions, words, and dress of their children.
This would HOPEFULLY not be an example of the school telling kids what to think, or saying some views are allowed and others disallowed; it should just be a blanket “do that on your own time, you are here to learn right now, not teach, motivate, proselytize, politicize or propagandize.”
Dingdingding!!! Post of the Day!
Nothing political -— no candidate, no political party, no office holder, either elected or appointed, no political party, and no legislation, current or proposed -— was mentioned on the shirt.
So how does that make her a walking political billboard? Perhaps a walking health sciences billboard, but one would not think health sciences out of place in a school...
You don't know California Schools do you? They try to get every one to sign up for free breakfast, regardless of income level. They then tout the statistics of what percent of the school is eligible for the free breakfast as a sign of the poverty level. The more ‘poverty’ they have the more funding they get for other programs.
In the 90’s I was married with 3 kids and making $75,000. We had a hell of time NOT getting the kids signed up for the free breakfast program. Being a fiscal conservative (social also)I felt it was not appropriate for us to avail ourselves to a misguided social experiment.
“I agree with the school. Children should not be sent to school as walking billboards for any political cause, on the left or right.”
You’re tryin’ to put that Genie back in the bottle, yes? You may agree with the school in “principle” but legally, if they allow “walking billboards” for ANY other cause, then they must allow Mrs. Amador’s daughter to be a walking billboard for HER cause also.
In fact, it is not only commendable that this young woman wore that t-shirt, it is heroic in the most basic sense of that word. She will win her case, probably out of court. (That grinding noise you hear is the school district rapidly shifting into reverse.)
Please cite that law to me.
They should ban screenings of An Inconvenient Truth in that school too, to be consistent.
It has graphic (but simulated) depictions of New York flooding as a result of Man’s reckless disregard for the environment.
Agreed. They need to nip it before a giant can of worms is opened. The insuing arguement would become a major distraction and disruption at the school.
I tell my people here at work not to talk about issues like this, even if they are things I agree with just to keep from starting a war.
Surely you jest.
They’re soon to be mandatory.
So long as the school ALSO takes a “hands off” approach on pushing for political causes (Earth Day, Gay Pride, Communist Women’s Day...) and does not put advocacy posters into hallways.
Are Young Conservatives and Young Liberals student clubs permissible?
Here is a bit of Justice Thomas’s take on it (while citing the relevant case of Lander vs Seaver)....
Justice Clarence Thomas has argued that Tinkers ruling contradicted the traditional understanding of the judiciarys role in relation to public schooling, and ignored the history of public education (127 S.Ct. 2634). He believed the judiciarys role to determine whether students have freedom of expression was limited by in loco parentis. He cited Lander v. Seaver (1986) which held that in loco parentis allowed schools to punish student expression that the school or teacher believed contradicted the schools interests and educational goals. This ruling declared that the only restriction the doctrine imposed were acts of legal malice or acts that caused permanent injury. Neither of these were the case with Tinker.
If the school bans all politically based T-shirts, then it might have a chance of winning. However, the words "other inappropriate subject matter" suggest that some political views are considered appropriate. That would be "viewpoint discrimination" and so a violation of the First Amendment.
Rather than trample the First Amendment and our God-given rights or allow chaos to reign, I have a solution:
ABOLISH GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS!
A fetus in a womb is graphic huh? How about a picture after it’s had it’s brain sucked out?! Would that be more appropriate?
I think conservatives should wear whatever necessary to upset the administration into over reacting.
By using their own rules against them ( using Saul Alinsky techniques) we can squander resources and time, generate publicity, delegitimize the schools, and further drive government schooling into a deeper pit ineffectualness.
You mean the kids might have to think for themselves and debate the issue? We might see the end of the world if that happens. School shouldn’t be like a workplace in at least one respect; we should encourage debate and independent thinking.
They probably signed you up anyway.
I was assuming they were going to say it was the latter when I read the word “graphic.” That would truly violate the “violent” provision of their dress code. Instead they rely on blanket censorship thanks to the phrase “or other inappropriate subject matter.”
The best solution would be to declare all government k-12 schools in violation of the First Amendment! They are anyway.
At first I was appalled at this view. But slowly but surely I am coming around to it.
I agree... mostly.
The growing problem is that public schools are increasingly insisting on overriding the parents' rights and forcing objectionable materials and viewpoints on our children.
Such restrictions on students' free speech MUST be universal if they are used. A ban on all shirts with ANY printing whatsoever (no Che, etc.) would be fair.
But then what do we do about the teachers who HAVE their 1st Amendment rights protected, who then teach our children whatever offensive viewpoint they might deem proper?
I’m for saying you do not have full 1st Amendment rights in elementary school. I don’t want my kids seeing uncouth t-shirts, so I am willing to have them put off wearing their own political messages.
The whole thing goes away if you bring back school uniforms. A lot of public schools around the world do that, and an increasing number of them in the US. The uniforms are more comfortable than they used to be, and they are not very expensive at Target. I’m sure kids would still try to wear provocative buttons or something, but that can be dealt with using a carefully written dress code.
“They probably signed you up anyway.”
Sigh! Your probably right. Sigh again!
I once ordered a Marine who showed up for field day formation in a T-shirt that said “It’s a black thing, you wouldn’t understand” to go change it and that until he did field day would not commence and everyone would remain in formation until he returned. The next day he and I were standing in front of my CO (who was black) and he asked me if I was a racist and if he thought the other Marine was a racist to which I responded...”No Sir, I thought the shirt was racist in nature and in my mind was inappropriate attire for a Marine to wear”. To which he responded “Good answer”. I was dismissed and a conversation ensued between my CO and the other Marine behind closed doors. At the next morning formation the other Marine offered a formal apology to everyone present. I never saw the shirt again.
The 1st Amendment is all about the government not prohibiting or criminalizing viewpoints.
But if you are hired to teach History, and then go off on the moon landings being fake, the Kennedy assassination conspiracy, the car that runs on water not gas, etc; you WILL get fired.
That being said political nutjobs can and do get where they can spread their nuttery to kids; and many find a welcoming environment to such among our “I have a degree in Education, so I know nothing except how to teach.... nothing.” education professionals.
The best solution is to be a hands on parent at your local school, home school, and educate your child.
If 50% or more of what your child “knows” came from a school teacher and not from their parents, clergy, or their own self betterment; then your child has attained a piss poor education.
I think I figured out that kids don’t have any rights (freedom of speech, freedom from search and seizure, etc.) at school pretty early - while I was still IN school.
If they say say no gang colors - no gang colors. If they say no political or religious tees, no political or religious tees.
But if they allow any other politically themed garments, buttons, etc., then they have to allow this one as well.
A more direct message to really piss them off could have said,
Growing - Growing - Murdered
The argument over legalized concentration camps needs to happen in our schools if nowhere else. It is the most important human rights issue of our time, and this is the can of worms that has been sealed up for far too long. Time to go on offense.
If they can teach gay sex ed in grammar schools they should be allowed to wear that t-shirt.