Editor’s note: A federal judge in Allentown, Penn., heard a request from Miller’s attorney, Leonard G. Brown, on March 20 for a preliminary injunction against the school district to allow Miller to wear the controversial shirt.
LANCASTER, Pa. — The family of a middle school student who was given
detention for wearing a T-shirt bearing the image of a gun has filed a federal
freedom-of-speech lawsuit against the school district.
Donald Miller III, 14, went to Penn Manor High School in December wearing a
T-shirt he said was intended to honor his uncle, a U.S. Army soldier fighting in
The shirt bears the image of a military sidearm and on the front pocket says,
"Volunteer Homeland Security." On the back, over another image of the weapon,
are the words "Special issue Resident Lifetime License — United States Terrorist
Hunting Permit — Permit No. 91101 — Gun Owner — No Bag Limit."
Officials at the Millersville school told Miller to turn his shirt inside
out. When he refused, he got two days of detention.
His parents, Donald and Tina Miller of Holtwood, have accused the Penn Manor
School District in a lawsuit of violating their son's First Amendment rights
with a "vague Orwellian policy" that stifles both patriotism and free
But an attorney for the school district said school must create a safe
environment for students in the post-Columbine era, and bringing even the image
of a gun to school violates the district's policy.
"There's a much higher level of sensitivity these days," Penn Manor attorney
Kevin French said. "But it's based on reality."
The lawsuit was filed in January. A federal judge will hold a conference on
the case March 31.