Lawyer: School Violated Girl's Rights When It Refused to Let Her Wear NRA Shirt

A school ordered a girl wearing an NRA T-shirt that showed a hunter with a rifle to change her shirt

By Jason Kandel
|  Saturday, Oct 5, 2013  |  Updated 12:50 PM CDT
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A high school student was forced to change an NRA T-shirt that had an image of a gun on it after she wore it to school. Hetty Chang reports from Anaheim from NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Oct. 4, 2013.

Hetty Chang

A high school student was forced to change an NRA T-shirt that had an image of a gun on it after she wore it to school. Hetty Chang reports from Anaheim from NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Oct. 4, 2013.

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A prominent gun rights attorney has agreed to represent pro bono the family of a Southern California high school student who was ordered to remove an National Rifle Association T-shirt over fears it promoted violence.

Haley Bullwinkle, a 16-year-old sophomore at Canyon High School in Anaheim Hills, wore the NRA shirt last month to school. The shirt had a silhouette of a hunter holding a rifle with a scope, a deer and the American flag.

Citing a policy prohibiting clothing "depicting or promoting violence," school staff gave her another shirt to wear, school officials said in a statement.

But after her parents contacted the school expressing concern, the principal determined the shirt logo did not promote violence and that she could wear the shirt.

The Bullwinkles also received an apology from the school and an assurance that training will be provided to staff "so an incident like this does not occur again," school officials said.

Attorney Chuck Michel, who volunteered to help the family with their case, said he believes the school violated her First Amendment rights.

"It's ludicrous to claim that the American flag, a deer or a hunter somehow promotes or depicts or threatens violence," he said.

Michel said he would push to make sure school officials explicity lay out in a dress code what's banned and what isn't.

Michel suggests a double standard is in play as the school's pep squad practices with dummy rifles and the school's mascot is a Commanche warrior.

Canyon High School made headlines last year when it nixed its longtime tradition of having students dress up as gardeners, gang members and even a pregnant woman pushing a baby stroller as part of an annual, Mexican-themed show dubbed "Senores and Senoritas."

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