School officials have apologized for forcing a 16-year-old student to change out of a National Rifle Association T-shirt.
Haley Bullwinkle, a sophomore at Canyon High School in Orange County, Calif., arrived at school last month wearing a shirt that read “National Rifle Association of America -- Protecting America’s Traditions Since 1871.” It depicted a picture of an American flag and a hunter with a rifle, according to local outlet KTLA-TV.
However, upon walking in the door, a campus official demanded that she change or face disciplinary action. School officials told her the shirt violated the school’s dress code, the Los Angeles Times reports.
After complaining to the school, Bullwinkle’s parents were told the school does not support clothing that depicts violence. Still, Bullwinkle and her parents felt that her constitutional rights were dishonored.
"I felt like they were violating my rights, my freedom of speech," the sophomore told the Los Angeles Times. "I want to be able to wear what I want to wear within reason."
However, on Thursday, the school reversed course. After reviewing further pictures of the shirt, the district superintendent issued a statement saying Bullwinkle could wear the shirt and that “Campus staff will be trained so that an incident like this does not occur again,” according to KTLA-TV.
At the time of the incident, Bullwinkle’s father told CBS Los Angeles he felt the school had hypocritical policies, as the drill team twirls fake rifles, and the school’s mascot, a Comanche Indian Chief, could be considered offensive by some groups.
“I think that if you consider the hunter, the image of the hunter to be offensive, certainly there are groups that would consider the Comanche Indian chief to be offensive,” he told the outlet.
This is not the first time that a student has gotten in trouble for wearing a pro-NRA shirt. Last year, West Virginia student Jared Marcum, was charged with causing a disruption at his middle school after refusing to remove an NRA Shirt. The charge was eventually dropped.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the year on the shirt.