Andy Davidson told TheBlaze Wednesday he is proud his son stood up for his rights, choosing in-school suspension instead of taking off a T-shirt that Davidson claims school officials found offensive.
The green shirt worn by Christian Davidson, an eighth-grade student at Spring Hill Middle School in Longview, Texas, had an eagle printed in yellow on the front with a Bible verse on the back, an American flag on the left sleeve and the apparently controversial words on the left.
The verse was Romans 13:12, which states “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
The left shoulder of the shirt, which was designed by the father’s own company Maker’s Militia, has the words “God,” “guns” and “country” stacked.
Andy Davidson said the vice principal spotted his son’s shirt as he was approaching the school Tuesday morning.
“He said he had been waiting for him to wear that shirt again,” Davidson said.
Christian was led to principal Kathy Parker’s office where he was told he could either flip his shirt inside out or wear a school-issued shirt over it.
“My son refused both,” Davidson said.
“The shirt they were going to give him was 3XL, orange inmate shirt,” he added, noting his son is a medium in size. “He stood his ground and it makes me proud.”
He said administrators then told Christian to call his parents so that they might bring him another shirt. Davidson drove promptly to the school and said he proceeded to have an hour-long discussion about his son’s right to wear the shirt.
The district’s superintendent, in an emailed statement, said the shirt pictured on Davidson’s Facebook page is not the one Christian wore to school.
When we asked Davidson about this, he said the shirt his son wore was identical except it had an additional Maker’s Militia logo on the back.
“(Parker) said what my son was wearing was intolerable attire,” Davidson said.
According to the ISD’s student handbook, clothing cannot have “pictures, logos, phrases, letters or words printed on them that are obscene, suggestive, crude or immoral in the judgment of the administration.”
More specifically, these could include “nude/semi-nude figures, pictures or logos of alcoholic beverages and tobacco; obscene gestures; curse words; slang words; portrayal of drug paraphernalia; figures in suggestive postures; skulls and crossbones; and macabre words or graphics.”
Though no specific mention of firearms or guns is included, Davidson said the principal said it was within her discretion to make this judgment.
“She told me she thought it was best to keep the shirt away from other students,” Davidson said. “She thought it was offensive and could incite fear among the students.”
Superintendent Wes Jones said the “administration asked that students not wear shirts at school that depicted knives, guns or other weapons.” The statement also noted that no student had been placed in an in-school suspension, as Davidson had said his son was.
“…we will enforce our dress code as necessary to minimize disruptions at school, including protecting other students from messages or images that are threatening, promote violence, or otherwise disrupt the educational environment,” Jones continued.
Instead of taking off the shirt, Christian served an in-school suspension, meaning he was not allowed to go to class that day. Davidson called it “solitary confinement.”
What’s more, Davidson claimed that Parker said if his son’s behavior persisted — if he chose to wear the shirt again or one with a similar theme — he would face increasing punishments.
But Davidson doesn’t see how it’s a behavioral issue.
“It’s a First Amendment issue,” he said.
And Davidson said his son plans to wear shirts like this again, ignoring the threat of more punishment at school.
“He’s not purposely trying to disobey authority. I teach my son to obey the law until the law imposed is quite unlawful,” Davidson said.
Davidson started the faith-based and political clothing brand Maker’s Militia in 2012, basing designs on his beliefs. He said he never thought this shirt would get a reaction from the school like it apparently did.
“There’s nothing that would suggest violence. The shirt is very much about loving the country,” he said.
As a parent going forward, Davidson said he’s joining a local parents’ rights group to draft a petition that not only voices a complaint about instances like this but also against the school allegedly teaching a C-Scope curriculum, even though it was banned in the state earlier this year.
“Emotional opposition to some words or ideas that some have do not legally or morally override someone’s rights,” Davidson said of the message the petition will send.
This story has been updated to include the statement from the school.
(H/T: Red Hot Conservative)