An eighth-grade student is suing the Washoe County (Nev.) School District after he was told to cover his pro-gun T-shirt because it was in violation of the district’s dress code.
The Reno Gazette Journal reports that lawsuit asserts that the school district’s dress code, which prohibits depictions of “anything that promotes weapons,” is a violation of the student’s First Amendment rights.
“This lawsuit challenges, at its core, the school district’s policy which we believe is unconstitutionally overbroad and violates the First Amendment on its face,” says Brandon Combs, president of the Firearms Policy Coalition, which issued a news release in support of the student.
The student, who attends Depoali Middle School in Reno, is identified in the lawsuit by his initials, "G.M." The lawsuit identifies his mother as Audrey Guardanapo, a local police dispatcher, and his father as Shaun Guardanapo, a former law enforcement officer and U.S. Marine veteran.
The boy was disciplined twice for wearing pro-gun clothing, according to the lawsuit.
He was first disciplined in November 2017 for wearing a shirt from a local gun store. That shirt depicted the store’s logo, which shows the silhouettes of a rifle and handgun.
He was again disciplined on March 12 for wearing a shirt promoting the Firearms Policy Coalition. That shirt features the words “Don’t Tread On Me” and a coiled snake. It also includes references to the Second Amendment.
“The shirt did not promote or advocate illegal activity; it contained no violent or offensive imagery; nothing on it was obscene, vulgar or profane....And yet (the student) was prevented from wearing his shirt based on school officials’ disagreement with the message they believe it conveyed,” the lawsuit contends.
Just days before filing the lawsuit, the coalition launched a website and accompanying guide aimed at helping students who identify as pro-gun assert their First Amendment rights to counteract student protests calling for stricter gun control legislation.
According to the lawsuit, the student’s teacher instructed him to cover the shirt. The student told the teacher that he could express himself through how he dressed, to which the teacher replied that he could have his “Second Amendment rights when he turns eighteen,” according to the lawsuit.