Totalitarian, egalitarian, envious school bureaucrats love uniforms. They force everyone to be equal and suppress free expression. Two students, in the fifth and seventh grades, at schools in Bayonne, New Jersey, protested their schools’ new uniform policies by wearing buttons stating “no school uniforms” with a slash through them along with a photo of Hitler Youth boys wearing identical shirts and neckerchiefs. No swastikas appeared on the buttons. School admins threatened to suspend the students, so their parents sued. Referencing the famous Tinker arm band decision, a judge ruled the protest may continue because it did not disrupt the school.
The parents specifically filed a federal lawsuit stating the district stifled their children’s First Amendment free speech rights. According to Fox News, the parents also sued to repeal the uniform policy.
One of the students had worn a button for more than six weeks before the school protested. The school claimed the buttons promoted Nazi ideology and do not, if you can believe this, constitute free speech. While the lawsuit moved forward, the students did not wear buttons to avoid jeopardizing their education.
“The school cannot prohibit student free speech even where some may find the speech offensive,” said Ed Barocas, legal director of the ACLU’s New Jersey chapter. “The school must show that the free speech is actually going to be disruptive, in order to censor it.”
The parents issued a written statement:
“I’ve gotten overwhelming support from MANY people that tell me that they absolutely agree with what the image depicted, an ominously homogenous group of blindly cooperative children,” the statement said.
“That image showed no swastikas, no weapons, and Hitler himself wasn’t depicted,” she wrote. “The picture makes a profound statement about what can happen when we turn children into ‘uniform’ followers. Our intent was not to offend but to make a bold statement about what we, as an American family believe is an erosion of a simple right, to be individuals, not blind followers. The very basic rights, to wear clothing we choose, and to peacefully protest what we know was the undemocratic stripping of those rights from us as parent and student.”
- First Amendment Center
- NY Times Article (with photo of student wearing button!)
- Hey Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
- Find Michael DePinto on Facebook.