School That Forced Teen Girl to Take Off NRA Shirt Has a Change of Heart

A California school district is now apologizing to a 16-year-old high school student after making her remove her NRA T-shirt with a hunter pictured on it last month.

TheBlaze spoke earlier this week with Haley Bullwinkle and her father regarding this incident, which they at least felt violated the Canyon High School sophomore’s First Amendment rights. They couldn’t see how it violated school policy.

haley t-shirt
Haley Bullwinkle was taken to the principal’s office last month by a security guard and told to change shirts after this one was initially thought to violate school policy. The school Thursday reversed this decision. (Image source: Jed Bullwinkle)

Thursday, Orange Unified School District released a statement citing the high school’s reversed stance.

“The student will be permitted to wear the shirt,” Superintended Michael Christensen said in a statement, according to the Los Angeles Times.

A statement from the school district obtained by TheBlaze also said both Haley and her family have “received an apology and assurance that training will be provided to staff so an incident like this does not occur again.”

The Bullwinkle’s lawyer Chuck Michel, who was preparing to issue the school a pre-litigation demand letter, told TheBlaze Friday morning he isn’t sure how much of this is “pain avoidance” on the school’s part, but he’s pleased none the less that “school recognized its mistake.”

The school’s dress code bans clothing or jewelry that “promotes or depicts: gang, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, violence, criminal activity, obscenity, the degrading of cultures, ethnicity, gender, religion and/or ethnic values. (In general, anything that is divisive or offensive to a staff member.)”

haley t-shirt
A close-up of the image that initially got Bullwinkle in trouble at Canyon High School in Anaheim Hills, Calif. (Image source: Jed Bullwinkle)

Upon re-reviewing the image of a hunter’s silhouette on the T-shirt, which was a gift from the NRA when Bullwinkle’s father, Jed, became a card-carrying member, Canyon High School Principal Kimberly Fricker said that it didn’t promote violence, according to the district’s statement.

“From our perspective, the family is glad the school came to its senses and we’re glad the school recognized that the shirt does not promote violence,” said Michel, whose other clients include NRA and the California Rifle and Pistol Association.

“We just wish more schools would realize the same thing,” he continued, citing cases around the country where students have recently gotten in trouble for similar clothing or for making a gun symbol with their hands. “This is one of those rare cases where the school district was willing to acknowledge a mistake.”

Watch KCBS-TV’s report about the school’s recent reversal of its perspective on the T-shirt:

This story has been updated with a statement from the school district.