The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) said on Tuesday that two middle school students are suing their Michigan school district after they were made to remove their “Let’s Go Brandon” sweatshirts in February.
According to the complaint, Tri County Middle School Assistant Principal Andrew Buikema and teacher Wendy Bradford instructed the students to remove their “Let’s Go Brandon” sweatshirts in February. The sweatshirts featured a phrase commonly used by critics of President Joe Biden as a euphemism for “f**k Joe Biden.”
The district contended that the sweatshirts violated school policy that prohibits profane language on clothing because the phrase is “intended to ridicule the President with profanity.” However, FIRE argued that the student’s First Amendment rights were violated by the school’s actions, the Daily Caller reports.
“We expect our public schools to prepare students for the real world,” Conor Fitzpatrick, FIRE attorney, told the news outlet. “That means schools must prepare students for a life where their neighbors and leaders may not think, pray, or vote the same way they do. Being exposed to different views is something schools can and should encourage, not censor.”
BREAKING: FIRE sues Michigan school district for ordering students to remove “Let’s Go Brandon” sweatshirts. ➡️ https://t.co/WSZqskxWfR
— FIRE (@TheFIREorg) April 25, 2023
According to the lawsuit, Buikema reportedly instructed another student to remove a Trump 2020 flag, which was being worn as a cape during the school’s annual “field day” in June 2022. During the event, students were permitted to wear “non-traditional apparel.” But, the report stated no action was taken against other students who wore gay pride flags.
“Criticism of the president is core political speech protected by the First Amendment,” Fitzpatrick said in FIRE’s press release. “Whether it’s a Biden sticker, ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ sweatshirt or gay pride T-shirt, schools can’t pick and choose which political beliefs students can express.”
In the lawsuit, the students are seeking a permanent injunction to prevent the school from enforcing the ban on “Let’s Go Brandon” apparel and a policy that prohibits clothing that is “disruptive to the teaching and/or learning environment by calling undue attention to oneself.” Additionally, the students are seeking a court order that the district’s policy violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments.