School claims shirt is “unsafe and disruptive”
Source: Steve Watson
A student in Chicago is fighting back against a suspension he was given after wearing a T-shirt to school that depicts a gun.
The T-shirt (pictured) has a silhouette of a gun on the back, and contains the phrase “TeamAK”. It also bears a website url for a Kentucky armory club that supports gun rights.
Chris Borg, an 18-year-old senior at Hinsdale Township High School is pressing for the suspension to be rescinded and struck from the record.
Borg says he was pulled up by hall monitors at his school last week, then ordered by the dean of students to either turn the shirt inside out, wear a different shirt, or be suspended for a day.
“I decided to go home for the day because I felt it was a infringement of my First Amendment right to freedom of expression,” Borg said at a school board hearing Monday.
School officials claim that the shirt violates the dress code, which states that students may be punished if they wear clothing that “is deemed vulgar, inappropriate, unsafe or disruptive to the educational process.”
Borg says that he was told by school officials that the shirt is “unsafe and disruptive”.
“Pictures of firearms can be found in our history textbooks, but you don’t see people freaking out about that,” Borg told the school board.
“Guns don’t have to be for killing,” Borg said. “They are tools you can use for shooting targets, hunting or self-defense. This is my hobby and it is recognized as an Olympic sport.”
Borg also notes that the school’s own sports mascot is a Devil holding a trident, which is a weapon used in the past consisting of a pole with three sharp metal points on the end.
The school’s superintendent, Bruce Law, claims that officials have the right to suspend any student if they feel their clothing is offensive.
“Every school I’ve ever worked at has restrictions on what a student can wear when it’s offensive or could be predicted to be offensive, when it promotes drugs, alcohol or violence,” Law said.
Borg’s family are supporting his efforts. “He’s not advocating violence. He’s an Eagle Scout. He’s a straight-up kid,” the boy’s father Kevin Borg said, adding “I respect his right to express his feelings.”
Borg’s case is not unique. Several students have been suspended from schools around the country for wearing t-shirts depicting guns. The crack down on such images is part of a blanket zero tolerance policy that seeks to censor anything that can be remotely related to weapons.
Critics and lawmakers continue to argue that the policy goes too far too often and is negatively and unnecessarily impeding the education of students who have found themselves under its microscope.