Lawmakers on Monday asked Arizona’s attorney general to investigate possible “free speech violations” following an incident on Friday, in which administrators demanded high school students remove their Make America Great Again items and told parents the gear was “offensive” and “disrespectful.”
The letter, signed by 26 lawmakers, notes that “parents of the students in question say they were told that their clothing was ‘offensive, and that the kids were being disrespectful by wearing it.’”
Signers also asked Attorney General Mark Brnovich to ensure that the $2 million spent to hire a “director of equity and inclusion” and to purchase “diversity, equity, and inclusion curriculum for the district” will yield programs that “truly espouse tolerance for all viewpoints, including Christianity and conservatism.”
— AZ House Republicans (@AZHouseGOP) March 4, 2019
“All of the discrimination seems to go one way,” said Washington Times senior opinion columnist Monica Crowley on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” on Monday night.
“It’s against the kids who support Donald Trump …[But] the kids who come wearing Hillary Clinton gear [or] Bernie Sanders gear, no problem whatsoever,” Crowley added.
“I think that we have to look at the political climate that we’re in right now. [There] is a lot of tension. I think we’re going to run into this problem as we head more into 2020,” said Rochelle Ritchie, former press secretary for House Democrats, also a guest on the show.
“The problem we have in this country right now is that freedom of speech only counts when people like what you have to say,” Ritchie added, noting her belief that students should be free to express themselves politically.
“What the Left is trying to say,” noted Crowley, “is [that the MAGA hat] is a symbol of hate. Actually, what the MAGA hat does is expose hate.”
Students at Perry High School in Gilbert, Arizona, say administrators’ decision to reprimand them for wearing Make America Great Again gear during their spirit week activities last Friday targeted them unfairly, as Fox 10 Phoenix reported on Saturday.
The Friday “Party in the USA” day was done as a celebration of the nation. It was the culmination of spirit week at the Chandler Unified School District institution.
“As we were taking pictures, [a] police officer approached us and [said], ‘We are asking you to leave the campus right now,’” Logan James told Fox 10 Phoenix.
The freshman at Perry High School was then suspended when she refused to give her name to a resource officer. James plans to apologize for “being defiant,” according to the same outlet.
School principal Dan Serrano was captured on video saying the Trump MAGA banner that the students were holding was used in a “disrespectful” way.
The video showed a heated discussion between Serrano and Jennifer Farris, a student’s mother. The video was posted as part of an op-ed by Laurie Roberts in Arizona Republic.
In a letter to parents posted on the school’s Twitter account, Serrano denied the students involved in Friday’s incident were disciplined for expressing political viewpoints or for wearing political attire.
In the letter, Serrano claimed that the political signage the students carried had created a “safety concern” at lunch.
It is unclear whether he was referring to the banner that said “Trump: Make America Great Again,” shown in the photos obtained by Fox 10.
Though the students complied when asked to put it away, the principal said the students brought out the signage again after school was over that day, again creating a “concern for student safety.”
If the flag and MAGA clothing was not the issue, why blame them when it’s the anti-Trump crowd that is inciting the ‘safety concerns’. How are they not the ones punished?
— steven cranston (@stevencransto12) March 3, 2019
Why does pulling the flag out cause a concern for student safety. Isnt this the line Berkeley was giving to conservative speakers before Berkeley got sued and lost?
— Dee (@DiFive96) March 3, 2019
The students then reportedly declined to leave campus as requested by the school’s resource officer.
In addition, the principal says the students refused to provide their names and school identification to him.
“In summary, our administration has not and will not discipline a student for lawfully exercising their free speech rights. Students may lawfully be held accountable for complying with the district’s lawful policies, administrative regulations and expectations for student conduct set forth in the Student Handbook,” the letter states.
“It is our responsibility to maintain a safe campus and ensure there are no disruptions to the educational environment. Students or visitors who refuse to comply with administration and law enforcement may be asked to leave the campus when the administration deems it in the best interest of safety, security and effective school operations,” the letter concludes, adding, “We are proud of our environment at Perry where diverse opinions are valued.”
And check out this video:
Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and regular contributor to LifeZette.