Schools are supposed to be places of safety, understanding, and diversity. But that was not the case for a Liberty High School senior, Addison Barnes, who was asked to either leave school or take off a t-shirt that offended some teachers and fellow classmates. The student (Barnes) wore a shirt that read “The Wall Just Got 10-Feet Taller” and had a design that suggested Trump had a construction business. On the day of the incident Mr. Barnes was asked to either remove, cover up the shirt, or go home. Mr Barnes in fighting for his constitutional rights left the school and his file was marked as suspended, but was later amended. The school felt that because their school was 1 third Latino, this shirt would have far-reaching ramifications and cause students to walk out of school. Mr Barnes fought the school and the school board over the matter in what turned out to be a lengthy and vocal fight, the school board lost and ultimately had to pay $25,000 in legal fees and the principal was forced to write a letter of apology.
This issue is about more than just a t-shirt, in Mr. Barnes’s opinion. He rightly pointed out that had he been wearing a shirt that was not supporting his center right beliefs then there would be no issue. Students were pro-democrat or pro-what ever the liberal trend is and no one bats an eye. There is an attack on constitutional freedom happening and it’s reached the classroom which is supposed to be a safe space for kids to express themselves without the shackles of judgement that adults have. Mr Barnes lawyers believe the school reacted in a rash manner without looking at the bigger picture, which should be the freedom of all students, whatever they believe. Many republicans such as Mike McLane, a Republican member of the Oregon Legislature and a partner with Lynch Conger McLane have praised the boy and come to his defense over the incident. They further reiterated that free speech and the freedom of expression, whether you like it or not, is part of the constitution and should be protected and afforded to all members of this nation, not just the popular ones.
Mr Barnes faced backlash for protecting his constitutional rights, and a judge even issued a restraining order against the school so that Mr Barnes would be allowed to wear his shirt to school. The judge agreed that the censorship of Mr Barnes was neither warranted nor justified. In the end the school decided not to contest the lawsuit because they felt it might further disrupt the students with protests and walkouts in support or opposition to Mr Barnes and his harmless t-shirt.