GRESHAM, Ore. – A 13-year-old boy was told to change his T-shirt or face discipline at his Gresham middle school last week.
Alan Holmes' shirt included the image of a gun, which school leaders said is not allowed.
But the boy and his family argued the rifle is shown with boots and a helmet, in what is recognized as the battle field cross for fallen soldiers, and is meant to support the troops. The shirt said "Standing for those who stood for us".
"It's not standing for violence, I tell you that much," Holmes said. "It's standing for the memorial for the soldiers, who have died for us and our freedom, and I 100 percent support them because they're supporting us."
In a brief statement to KGW, Gresham-Barlow School District spokeswoman Athena Vadnais wrote "…we have a policy on student dress and grooming. Weapons on a shirt are not appropriate in a school setting".
Holmes said he was told by the vice principal at Dexter McCarty Middle School to put on a different shirt or face an in-school suspension. Holmes decided to keep the shirt on and call his father to take him home.
Since then the story spread on social media, and national news organizations are calling the Holmes family.'
On Monday, the Gresham-Barlow School District released a statement on Facebook about the situation:
"Recently a middle school student in the Gresham-Barlow School District wore a t-shirt to school that had a rifle on it. Some news reports state the student was suspended. This was not the case.
The administration did talk with the student about the appropriateness of the image on his shirt. The parent of the student agreed to allow the student to go home after the student refused other options such as changing into a different t-shirt.
We are aware the rifle on the student's t-shirt featured a Fallen Soldier Battle Cross, which is a symbol used to show respect for fallen troops. The message of the t-shirt, showing support for our country's military, and their many sacrifices, is a positive one that we fully support. What called into question the appropriateness of the t-shirt in a middle school setting was the rifle included in the image.
While the district's dress code does not allow clothing with images of weapons, in light of this situation, we will take a closer look at our policy. This is an opportunity to engage the community in a conversation about school safety and the age appropriate ways to express support for our military veterans in a school setting.
The Gresham-Barlow School District greatly appreciates the service provided to our country by the members of the United States military and the many sacrifices made by veterans and their families to defend our country."
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