Michigan school district faces lawsuit after forcing students to remove ‘Let’s go Brandon’ sweatshirts

Two students who were prohibited from wearing clothing that featured a phrase critical of President Biden have filed a lawsuit against their Michigan school district. The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) — self-described as “a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending and sustaining the individual rights of all Americans to free speech and free thought” — are representing the Tri County Middle School students who sued the school district Tuesday for viewpoint discrimination after they were forced to remove sweatshirts they wore to school that featured the phrase “Let’s Go Brandon” in February 2022. An assistant principal and a teacher “ordered the boys to remove the sweatshirts” for allegedly breaking dress code while allowing other students to don other political apparel like “gay-pride-themed hoodies,” according to FIRE. The district and its employees — according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, Southern Division — “are censoring students who try to express support for former President Donald Trump or opposition to President Joe Biden.” YOUNG VOTERS ANNOYED WITH BIDEN OVER ALASKA OIL DRILLING PROJECT: ‘HE CHOSE THE WRONG SIDE’ The lawsuit from FIRE — a first for the free speech group on behalf K-12 students — seeks a “court order blocking the school district’s viewpoint-discriminatory ban on ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ apparel and a provision of its dress code banning students from wearing clothing which ‘calls undue attention’ to the student,” according to the group. “Criticism of the president is core political speech protected by the First Amendment,” said FIRE attorney Conor Fitzpatrick. “Whether it’s a Biden sticker, ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ sweatshirt, or gay pride T-shirt, schools can’t pick and choose which political beliefs students can express.” FIRE said the incident involving the two students is part of a “pattern of political favoritism” by the school district and that it is “wrongly relying on a policy that prohibits ‘profane’ clothing to censor this particular message.” “When the school district relaxed the dress code for field day, a school administrator ordered a student to stop wearing a Trump flag as a cape, but permitted other students to wear gay pride flags in the same manner,” the group said in a press release announcing the lawsuit. HOW ‘LET’S GO BRANDON!’ BECAME A NATIONAL SOCIAL MEDIA SENSATION “The slogan exists as a way to express an anti-Biden message without using profanity,” Fitzpatrick said. “A public school district cannot censor speech just because it might cause someone to think about a swear word.” FIRE attorney Harrison Rosenthal insisted the students who were forced to remove the sweatshirts by the school “should be encouraged” to share their political beliefs. “These students should not only be allowed to express their political beliefs, but should be encouraged to do so. America’s students must be free to exercise their constitutional rights, not just learn about them.” The superintendent for Tri-County Area Schools did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital about the lawsuit. The “Let’s go Brandon” catchphrase, which is used by American conservatives to criticize Biden, originated in October 2021. The humorous phrase, which originally stemmed from a NASCAR interview, is a G-rated substitute for “F— Joe Biden” chants that were popular during the COVID-19 pandemic. The explicit saying was recited at sporting events across the country in defiance of the president’s coronavirus mandates. Fox News’ Andrea Vacchiano contributed to this article.
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