First Amendment topicsAbout the First Amendment
News Story
 
print this   Print

Pa. school disciplines student for wearing gun T-shirt

By The Associated Press
03.13.08

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 Iraq.

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 speech.

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.


Update
Pa. teen can't wear gun T-shirt to school
'Students have no constitutional right to promote violence in our public schools,' federal judge says. 10.06.08

Related

Tenn. student forced to change 'Free the Jena Six' T-shirt

Suburban Nashville school official tells girl message on shirt could 'cause a problem.' 10.10.07

Federal judge backs school’s ban of anti-gay T-shirt

Ruling is based on 9th Circuit decision that found message on Tyler Harper's shirt infringed upon the rights of other students 'in the most fundamental way.' 02.14.08

Suburban Chicago student can wear anti-gay T-shirt to school
7th Circuit panel orders lower court to tell high school to lift ban on 'Be Happy, Not Gay' while Alexander Nuxoll's free-speech case proceeds. 04.25.08

ACLU asks district to drop suspensions over memorial T-shirts
Nebraska high school officials say 23 students violated district's dress policy by wearing shirts honoring slain friend. 09.02.08

Colo. student suspended for donning anti-Obama shirt
Eleven-year-old and his father say punishment violated First Amendment, but school says he was disciplined because T-shirt was causing disruption, not because of message it bore. 09.24.08

Clothing, dress codes & uniforms

News summary page
View the latest news stories throughout the First Amendment Center Online.



Last system update: Monday, February 8, 2010 | 15:06:28
 SEARCH  MORE
About this site
About the First Amendment
About the First Amendment Center
How to contribute
Video/RSS/podcasts
First Amendment programs
State of the First Amendment
reports

Religious liberty in public schools
First Reports
Supreme Court
Columnists
Experts
First Amendment publications
First Amendment Center history
Glossary
Freedom Sings™
Events
First Amendment
Schools

Congressional Research Service reports
Guest editorials
FOI material
The First Amendment
Library

Lesson plans
freedomforum.org
Newseum
Contact us
Privacy statement
Related links