A public high school student who was suspended for wearing a pro-President Trump T-shirt decided to stand his ground, and now he’s won a major victory for freedom of speech. The school, on the other hand, is having to shell out a whole lot of money.
Earlier this year, 18-year-old senior Addison Barnes got in trouble after he wore a “Border Wall Construction Co” T-shirt to Liberty High School in Hillsboro, outside Portland, Oregon. The shirt bore Trump’s signature and his famous quote, “The wall just got 10 feet taller.”
After just two students and a teacher complained, Barnes was pulled out of class and told by the assistant principal that he needed to “cover the shirt or get sent home,” the teen said.
Barnes opted to wear a jacket over the shirt, but as he was sitting in class, he recalled, “I thought to myself, 'You know this isn't right; this is my First Amendment right to be able to wear this shirt.' So I took off the jacket and the assistant principal had seen that and sent for a security guard to escort me out of class.”
The student was ultimately suspended, although the school later took back the suspension with a warning to not wear the shirt again. With the help of an attorney, Barnes decided to sue the school in order to make a stand for free speech.
He explained to The Oregonian that the school’s hypocrisy helped fuel him to fight back.
"I brought this case to stand up for myself and other students who might be afraid to express their right-of-center views,'' Barnes said. "Everyone knows that if a student wears an anti-Trump shirt to school, the teachers won't think twice about it. But when I wore a pro-Trump shirt, I got suspended. That's not right.''
The school fought back, arguing that illegal immigration is a big debate at the school, and his shirt could make some students feel uncomfortable. The school has been the site of anti-Trump walkouts and sit-ins — which disrupt classes far more than a T-shirt could — but don’t necessarily result in any punishment, according to the Hillsboro Tribune.
The U.S. district judge ruled in favor of Barnes, and the school district reached a settlement with the student on Tuesday. They’re writing Barnes an apology and paying him $25,000 to cover his attorney fees. Wow.