Nevada School Bans Student’s Pro-Gun Rights Tee Shirt & Free Speech

Two civil rights groups back new First Amendment lawsuit challenging Washoe County School District’s ‘no weapons’ dress code as unconstitutional and overbroad, claims 8th-grade student was discriminated against based on his pro-Second Amendment viewpoint and tee-shirt.

Guardanapo v. Washoe County School District - Federal First Amendment civil rights challenge to the District's "no weapons" dress code and discrimination against pro-gun rights 8th grade student
Guardanapo v. Washoe County School District – Federal First Amendment civil rights challenge to the District’s “no weapons” dress code and discrimination against pro-gun rights 8th grade student

RENO, NV-(Ammoland.com)- Less than one week after constitutional rights advocacy organizations Firearms Policy Foundation (FPF) and Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) published a new guide to help protect pro-gun rights students and their First Amendment free speech rights, the groups today announced a new federal civil rights lawsuit against a Reno, Nevada public school district and principal over what they believe are serious violations of an 8th grade student’s First Amendment right to peacefully and non-disruptively wear pro-Second Amendment political messages at his middle school. The complaint, which includes an image of the banned tee shirt, can be downloaded.

The lawsuit, filed this morning in the United States District Court for the District of Nevada in Reno, claims that boy was disciplined for engaging “in a respectful, silent, and peaceful expression of his political views” by wearing a Firearms Policy Coalition t-shirt to school. The shirt invokes the constitution and themes dating back to the American Revolution, with the words “Don’t Tread On Me” and a coiled rattlesnake (familiar elements of the Gadsden flag) flanked by references to the United States of America (“USA”) and the Second Amendment (“2A”). While it also includes the words “Firearms Policy Coalition,” there are no depictions of firearms or weapons of any kind on the shirt.

According to the plaintiffs, the student’s teacher, Brooke May, last month directed him to remove the FPC shirt, claiming that it violated the school’s dress code. She also said that he would be subject to further discipline, including a trip to the principal’s office, if he wore it again. In response, the 8th grader at Kendyl Depoali Middle School told her that it was his “right to express [himself] through how [he] dressed,” to which the teacher responded that he could have his “Second Amendment rights when he turns eighteen”—ignoring, and violating, his First Amendment rights in the process.

Mere days after the plaintiff was disciplined for wearing FPC’s pro-gun rights shirt, students at the school participated in the National School Walkout, a formal, organized protest calling for expansive new gun control measures.

“Public schools may not violate the civil rights of pro-gun rights students because they don’t like the Second Amendment or people who support the fundamental, individual human right to armed self-defense,” said FPF Chairman and FPC President Brandon Combs. “It is beyond outrageous that a friendly, peaceful young man was targeted and punished by the same school district that days later went out of its way to support gun control. This case will put the Washoe County School District and public schools across the country on notice that students’ peaceful, pro-Second Amendment speech is protected by the same constitution that protects their right to keep and bear arms.”

“The Supreme Court has affirmed since the era of Vietnam War protests that public school students have the right to express themselves so long as they don’t disrupt the educational process,” explained Bradley Benbrook, counsel for the plaintiff. “And the First Amendment violation is all the more apparent where, as alleged here, school administrators suppress unpopular speech while allowing more politically-correct speech.”

The student is represented through his parents Audrey Guardanapo, a local police dispatcher, and Shaun Guardanapo, veteran of the United States Marine Corps and former law enforcement officer, by Reno litigation attorney David O’Mara of the O’Mara Law Firm, Bradley Benbrook and Stephen Duvernay of Sacramento-based Benbrook Law Group, PC, and Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor who has written and taught extensively about the First and Second Amendments. Before joining the UCLA faculty 20 years ago, Volokh clerked for Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the U.S. Supreme Court. He also operates the popular legal blog “The Volokh Conspiracy,” now hosted at Reason.

If a student or parent believes they were discriminated against, threatened or disciplined for peacefully expressing their views, punished for refusing to participate in a gun control walkout or demonstration, or threatened with law enforcement action for their pro-gun speech, they can submit a report to the FPF/FPC Legal Action Hotline at www.firearmpolicy.org/hotline or by calling (855) 252-4510.

The FPF and FPC guide to pro-gun student speech, “K-12 Schools, Free Speech, and the Fundamental, Individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms: A Guide to How Students Can Use Their First Amendment Rights to Defend and Promote Second Amendment Rights,” is available for free at www.k12speech.com. In addition to providing information and tools that parents and students can use to make sure they are not forced into participating in speech or demonstrations they disagree with, the guide contains materials that may help them plan counter-speech to gun control advocacy events or organize pro-gun rights demonstrations or expressive conduct. It also includes sample letters that parents could edit and use to notify schools of a student’s disagreement with a gun control event’s viewpoint, request information and policies, and help ensure that school officials respect the rights of all students.


About Firearms Policy Foundation

Firearms Policy Foundation (www.firearmsfoundation.org) is a 501(c)3 grassroots, non-profit public policy organization. FPF’s mission is to defend the Constitution of the United States and the People’s rights, privileges and immunities deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition, especially the inalienable, fundamental, and individual right to keep and bear arms. FPF conducts charitable programs including research, education, and legal action to protect and advance individual liberty.

About Firearms Policy CoalitionFirearms Policy Coalition

Firearms Policy Coalition (www.firearmspolicy.org) is a 501(c)4 grassroots, non-profit public policy organization. FPC’s mission is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, especially the fundamental, individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. FPC protects and promotes individual liberty through programs including legal action, direct and grassroots advocacy, legislation, government oversight, research, education, and outreach.

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Repo
Repo
3 years ago

I’ve seen a few dress codes for schools where they say nothing is allowed to be displayed that the student is not allowed to legally do. I don’t remember the exact wording but an example would be they can’t wear budweiser or Marlboro tshirts. That’s how they try to make the no gun shirts argument. They will have to stop allowing chevy and ford tshirts with pics of cars on them to properly enforce this dress code. No difference in wearing a pro gun or pro chevy shirt.

tomcat
tomcat
3 years ago

It is a known fact that if we sue a school district we are suing for our own tax dollars. That being said the case still exists that these educational-whores are tromping all over our Constitution and Bill of Rights. It is quite possible that a hefty lawsuit would cause the heads to roll. It would be worth it to get rid of these commies so they can’t affect any more kids. If I was raising my family at this time they would not be going to public mischools.

Timothy Votaw
Timothy Votaw
3 years ago

We must remember how deeply embedded the Left has infiltrated teacher unions, organizations, and school boards. The burden now lies upon us to counteract these suppressive actions, bring the wrong out into the light, and display the foolishness behind such robotic, kee-jerk reactions currently sweeping the little flowers and twigs, i.e. vulnerable students, and deceitful staff.

Jim Macklin
Jim Macklin
3 years ago
Reply to  Timothy Votaw

After 1918 the Soviet Union [Russia] the Communists took over the schools and day care. In 1933 the NAZIS Party took over German schools and daycare even to the point of getting as many young teens pregnant. In the USA “new editions” of history textbooks have politically correct versions of the history. This goes as far as rewriting summaries of Supreme Court cases that are skewed or even outright lies. Old textbooks are essential but they are being removed from schools and libraries. Some of the teachers are just ignorant of these schemes and they can be educated. School dress… Read more »

Timothy Votaw
Timothy Votaw
3 years ago

Neveda? C’mon, writers, check your work. The opposition craps themselves pointing out our wee bits as the efforts of drooling, redneck buffoons. We need to be concise, sucvinct, on spot, and know our language. Even spellcheckers miss stuff. Do a quick spellcheck of your own, your brain, not some flawed app. We gotta look sharp.

JDL
JDL
3 years ago
Reply to  Timothy Votaw

Sucvinct? Ever consider practicing what you preach?

Repo
Repo
3 years ago
Reply to  JDL

I love when the grammar Nazis get nut punched…

Dr. Strangelove
Dr. Strangelove
3 years ago

While I am a big first and second amendment supporter, the school has the final say on dress codes. That said, if they are going to allow t-shirts with messages, discriminating against something, especially patriotic is just plain wrong. Whe I went to school, t-shirts were not allowed except in gym class. Maybe this is part of the problem.

Marc DV .
Marc DV .
3 years ago

What do you expect from schools these days ?
They don’t teach History ( the true history )
They don’t say the Pledge any more ( it might hurt some feelings )
They force Languages Kids don’t want to learn ( English is frowned upon )
Kids start getting Indoctrinated in Kindergarten .
If a Kid has an Original thought he’s a radical or racist .
PRIVATE or HOME SCHOOL raise your kid right !

Marc DV .
Marc DV .
3 years ago

HOME SCHOOL LOOKS BETTER EVERY DAY !

Harlton Cheston
Harlton Cheston
3 years ago

“bearing arms” should not include any type of machine guns where dozens of rounds can be fired in a few seconds. doesn’t take a high IQ to see why. there is no reason, NO REASON WHATSOEVER, for some crazy gun-nut to legally own a military-grade high-action fully automatic machine gun. none. it’s actually laughable to try and logically justify someone trying to defend themselves for owning such a weapon that only exists to kill as many people as possible in the quickest amount of time. a hunting rifle and an Israeli sub-machine gun are NOT the same. just isn’t.

OldVet
OldVet
3 years ago

Learn your subject before making ridiculous comments.

Longhaired Redneck
Longhaired Redneck
3 years ago

It’s the Bill of Rights, not the Bill of Needs. Just because you don’t like machine guns, your preference should not trump the preferences of others. Short of infringing on your rights, it’s none of your business what other like or want. I don’t think anyone needs to collect dolls, or barbed wire, or hang out around trains, but it’s not my business. If someone wants a machine gun, I’ve met a few, and can afford to feed it, that’s his business not mine.

JDL
JDL
3 years ago

The firearms being discussed are not machine guns, dumbass.

SuperG
SuperG
3 years ago

They should wear shirts that say Knowledge About The Constitution Is Taught Here. That should cause the principal a cerebral hemorrhage.

M.
M.
3 years ago

Hope the Ne-fag-a schools like the response. Useless educate-whores.

Freebird
Freebird
3 years ago

Jay Sekulow and the ACLJ , American Center For Law and Justice , are EXPERTS in this area of law, having won many cases — contact them.