Should a Student Get in Trouble for Wearing This Star Wars Shirt?

A Texas student wearing a Star Wars tee was recently told that his shirt broke school rules because it included an image of a weapon.

The shirt, featuring a design from the highly-anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens film, shows a stormtrooper holding up what appears to be a gun (or a “blaster” of some sort, in Star Wars terms).

The boy’s father, Joe Southern, told ABC 13 News that his son Colton wore the shirt to school several times without an issue but that last week he was asked to zip up his sweatshirt to cover it.

Calling the incident a violation of the First Amendment, the dad said his seventh-grader is simply excited about the new movie and that there’s “not a violent bone in his body.”

“It’s political correctness run amok,” he told the news station. “You’re talking about a Star Wars T-shirt, a week before the biggest movie of the year comes out. It has nothing to do with guns or making a stand. It’s just a Star Wars shirt.”

But the school district’s spokesperson said school policy outlines it as a violation of dress code because it includes “symbols oriented toward violence,” ABC 13 reports.

The district also apparently points out that their response could have been more harsh than it was – after all, he could have been asked to change or given an in-school suspension, according to the article.

Readers commenting about the situation have mixed opinions, but most agree that a reprimand of any form wasn’t really necessary.

“The PC crowd is going too far,” wrote user freebird on the ABC 13 comments section.

Another reader, KLB, sees a problem on both sides: “Sadly the same illogical logic that says this shirt is against dress code is the same illogical logic that the father has thinking that this is a First Amendment issue. Welcome to the overly PC world of 2015.”

Not everyone agrees, though.

“Rules are rules … even dumb ones,” wrote user aerosgrl. “No need to glorify violence … Kids are exposed to too much as is.”

It’s easy to see why laser blasters from a well-known sci-fi film might seem more inert than something more realistically violent. But despite how well-loved Star Wars is, the school administration might simply be trying to apply the rules equally to everyone.

With such a broadly-worded policy, though, chances are this rule isn’t being applied equally. After all, couldn’t a T-shirt simply showing Darth Vader be interpreted as a “symbol oriented toward violence”? What about a UFC shirt? Or an Air Force T-shirt showing an F-16 fighter jet? Surely those would be allowed.

It’s just too subjective, so it’s not surprising to see pushback when school administrators try to interpret freedom of expression.

Many parents would probably agree that their kids shouldn’t have to be reminded of violence when they’re at school. Others will argue – as my former journalism professor often told us – that no one has the right not to be offended.

The debate will undoubtedly rage on for ages over how much schools should be allowed to restrict students’ clothing choices. In the meantime, young Star Wars fans excited for the new movie will apparently need to be more careful about which T-shirt design they choose to wear to class.

What do you think? Should this T-shirt be allowed in school? Tell us in the comments.

Photo courtesy of The Washington Post

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