Judicial Watch • Public School Students Punished for Wearing U.S. Flag T-Shirts

Public School Students Punished for Wearing U.S. Flag T-Shirts

Public School Students Punished for Wearing U.S. Flag T-Shirts

OCTOBER 18, 2013

Only in Obama’s America do public school students get in trouble—and sent home—for wearing T-shirts sporting an American flag because it may offend their Mexican counterparts.

The shirts were considered “incendiary” by administrators at a northern California high school because there had been ethnic tension between Mexican and white students in the past. When five boys wore shirts with U.S. flags on Cinco de Mayo, observed as a celebration of Mexican heritage, tension escalated and threats of trouble circulated.

Mexican students claimed they felt “disrespected” and like they were being put down by their peers wearing the American flag on their special day. One of the boys who got sent home said an administrator told him they were “supposed to respect their Mexican culture.” Even the famously liberal American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) found this outrageous, calling it “censorship” and a violation of rights protected by the California education code as well as the U.S. Constitution.

The students were ordered to turn their shirts inside out or go home and later sued the school for violating their free speech and equal protections rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. This was in 2010 and a federal judge canned the lawsuit in late 2011, ruling that a perceived threat of violence vindicated the principal’s decision. Furthermore, the court ruled that administrators have wide legal latitude to ensure the safety and effective operation of their campus.

The boys, who have since graduated, appealed and the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to consider the case. A three-judge panel heard arguments this week, but there’s no indication when a ruling will be issued. A local newspaper covered arguments and provides links for briefs filed by both sides. The students argue that it’s a First Amendment issue and the school district insists it’s a safety issue, that administrators were preventing violence.   

Let’s see how it all plays out in the minds of the judges who sit on a notoriously liberal appellate court. The 9th Circuit is also well known for being the most overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. The bottom line in this case is best described by a law and free speech professor (Eugene Volokh) at one of California’s premier public universities: “The fact of the matter is that these Americans were punished for wearing the American flag at an American school.”

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  • Capt. Tony

    They feel disrespected. Where are they standing? On American soil. You can have your 5th of May observance without playing the victim. The school administrator is a politically correct coward. These kids who complained should be happy they have a school to go to at all. I’m tired of “You offend me with that.” You offend me with your offence. Go back to Mexico and change your country for the better. We didn’t move there. They moved here. It’s time to play by America’s rules.

  • Toby

    I remember when this ridiculousness happened. I am really sick and tired of hearing stories of how this country is being bullied by newcomers and Illegals. Anyone who is not happy here is more than welcome to go back home. The bellyaching is disgusting. If there was a threat of violence, send home the jerks making the threats. Some Hispanic children feel “disrespected” by others wearing the American flag, the flag of the country they have supposedly adopted? They need to get over themselves. They seem to live here now. The kids wearing the Am. flag very well may have been making a statement and my feeling is, so what? They may have felt disrespected themselves for being forced to recognize a MEXICAN holiday and wanted to silently protest. This is America, not Mexico or any other country, and I don’t blame them. If Mexicans are so damn in love with, and proud of, their country…why leave? Screwed up loyalties! This country seems to be raising them up while their own holds them back. Yet it is never enough, they still want more. They want it all.

    I am surprised that the school feels it necessary to celebrate a Mexican holiday. The school may have a high population of Hispanics but not all Hispanics are from Mexico. All this over-the-top PC dribble really needs to stop.

  • JaneDriver

    The kids were wearing American Flag t-shirts in an American school. This showed disrespect to nobody. They were not wearing t-shirts with derogatory comments or pictures of Mexico or Mexicans. That would be a safety issue. Those who threatened trouble should have been immediately removed and sent home.

  • orangeeye13

    If the company who issued the shirt was following United States law then “how can you fault the child?”…”or even the parents”…? Live with it…. Sure, it would be incredible if a kid wore a t shirt that was like this…” boom! we gotcha on 911, with a picture of Bin Laden”…But I am sure that the T shirt company had to follow a law that disallowed that made up garbage of mine. In the end, taxpayers end of paying money for bull crap like this. Not everyone is fortunate to shop at Macy’s every week. Sometimes I come across kids wearing hand me downs and freebies. It is either that or a ripped up rag from dumpster diving. It is not the kids fault. Stop the bullying of a child who has no control. How about a “fair vote”, instead of bullies making laws for themselves

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