by WorldTribune Staff, May 24, 2018
An Illinois high school valedictorian and an Oregon high school student are standing up for their First Amendment rights and taking on the PC police.
Sam Blackledge, valedictorian at West Prairie High School in Sciota, Illinois, hired a lawyer after he said school officials demanded the removal of all religious references from his May 19 graduation speech.
“Christ is the only reason I was a valedictorian,” Blackledge, 18, said according to a report by The Kansas City Star. “He’s the reason I got that 4.0. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be up there. I was giving him the credit for that.”
Attorney Jeremy Dys of the non-profit legal group First Liberty Institute told reporters that the school didn’t even want Blackledge to speak, but eventually allowed the senior to give a “very generic” address.
Dys accused West Prairie High School of violating Blackledge’s First Amendment rights.
“They actually violated the Constitution. They’d do well to remember, as ‘Tinker v. Des Moines,’ the case in 1969, reminds us, that students do not shed their constitutional rights when they walk through the schoolhouse gates,” Dys told KFVS.
Blackledge is considering taking the issue to court.
Meanwhile, Addison Barnes, an 18-year-old student at Liberty High School in Hillsboro, Oregon, is suing the school, saying it violated his First Amendment rights when it suspended him for wearing a pro-Trump T-shirt.
Barnes told FOX 12 that he was asked to cover up a T-shirt saying “Donald J. Trump Construction Co.” and includes a Trump quote: “The wall just got 10 feet taller.”
According to KGW, Barnes wore the shirt to his People and Politics class in January, and he told the TV outlet he knew they’d be discussing immigration in class that day.
A school official pulled Barnes out of class and asked him to cover the shirt, saying at least one student and one teacher had been offended by the shirt, The Associated Press reported. He was told to cover or remove the shirt or he would be sent home for the day.
“I decided, you know this isn’t right,” he told the TV station. “I have my First Amendment, and it’s not right what they’re doing.”
Barnes went home and school officials treated his absence as a suspension, the Hillsboro Tribune reported. The school later rescinded the suspension, but told Barnes he’d be disciplined if he wore the shirt again.
“The high school, ironically named Liberty High School, had violated his free speech rights,” Barnes’ attorney, Mike McLane, told KGW.