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A 14-year-old New Hampshire girl who wore a “Make America Great Again” t-shirt on “America Day” was ordered by school officials to cover up the shirt.
“It’s just a shirt, and it only says Trump make America great again, it doesn’t say anything like build a wall, so I don’t get how it could be offensive, how it could be disrespectful,” she told Boston 25 News.
The principal at Epping High School reportedly told the child that President Trump is a controversial president and that he didn’t want the shirt to make anyone feel uncomfortable in school.
Principal Brian Ernest sent an email to the student’s mother explaining why he told the child to change shirts, the Union Leader newspaper reported.
Epping High School freshman Ciretta Mackenzie chose to wear her MAGA gear on ‘America Day’ at school. She was asked to cover up her shirt by the principal, she feels she did not violate the dress code policy and believes her rights were violated @boston25 pic.twitter.com/aPTRbjXsuY
— Julie Leonardi (@JulieLeonardiTV) April 12, 2019
“I explained that we need to separate political views from patriotism. In today’s climate it is important to not mix church or state,” he wrote.
Even the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire was appalled by the school’s egregious act of censorship.
Gilles Bissonnette, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire, issued a statement Thursday morning in response to the incident.
“We are deeply concerned about the actions of Epping High School in censoring this peaceful political speech in support of the President. T-shirts — as well as hats, buttons, and other wearable items — are a common way for students to express their views on everything from political races to social issues. Unfortunately, schools have a long history of trying to censor this form of peaceful expression. Public schools should create an environment where the free exchange of ideas is fostered, not silenced,” the ACLU said in a prepared statement to the newspaper.
The Union Leader condemned the school’s actions, writing in an editorial, “Such incidents are sometimes called ‘teachable moments’ by professional educators. In this case, it may be a student who teaches the educators.”