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Removing Disrupting Clothing Does Not Violate the First Amendment

In the case of C.G. v. Oak Hills Local School Dist., S.D.Ohio No. 1:21-CV-524, 2023 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129782 (July 26, 2023), a federal district court held that the school district did not violate the student’s First Amendment rights when the student was required to remove a sweatshirt with a potentially inflammatory message or when the student alleged a teacher made disparaging comments about the student’s political ideology during class.

In this case, the student argued that the school district violated the student’s First Amendment rights when (1) the school district required the student to remove a sweatshirt that had a graphic of an AR-15 rifle on the front with the word “ESSENTIAL” and (2) by advancing their own political ideologies, while suppressing speech that expressed an opposite political belief. In response, the school district argued that it required the student to remove the sweatshirt because the school district reasonably believed the message on the sweatshirt may cause a substantial disruption and that, at all times, the student was equally entitled to express the student’s own beliefs and viewpoints. The federal district court agreed with the school district.

In support of its decision in favor of the school district, the federal district court explained “the circumstances described show that it was reasonable for school officials to predict that allowing clothing with depictions of weapons had the potential to cause a substantial disruption of, or material interference with, school activities. The federal district court further explained the teacher merely telling the student that the student was wrong did not infringe upon the student’s rights and the student failed to show any evidence that the student was prevented from presenting the student’s point of view.

To read this case, click here.

Authors: Matthew John Markling and the McGown & Markling Team.

Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always-changing Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.

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