A Mississippi high school has reportedly forced a student to stop wearing a face mask in support of President Donald Trump, a move that a top free speech legal nonprofit argues is a violation of constitutional rights because other political masks have been allowed.
Northwest Rankin High School in Flowood allegedly forced junior David Ferguson to remove a blue Trump 2020 campaign face mask that includes the message, "Keep America Great!”
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative nonprofit that advocates for free speech and has won several cases at the U.S. Supreme Court, sent a letter on Tuesday to Rankin County School District Board of Education President Grumpy Farmer regarding the incident.
According to the letter written by ADF Legal Counsel Caleb Dalton, the principal at Northwest Rankin High approached Ferguson in September and told him to remove the mask. The principal allegedly offered the student a plain face mask as a replacement.
Although the official reason for the mask removal was over its political content, the letter claimed other face masks with political statements have been allowed "without reprimand."
“Apparently, other students and teachers are allowed to wear face masks and other clothing with political messages without reprimand — including messages supporting [Democrat presidential nominee Joe] Biden, BLM and Rainbow masks,” reads the letter, in part.
“The application of this policy to prohibit Mr. Ferguson from wearing a Trump face mask violates long-standing First Amendment principles.”
Dalton said in a statement Tuesday that public schools must “respect the free expression of students.”
“While school administrators face challenges in helping students navigate school life while wearing masks at this time, they simply can’t suspend the First Amendment or arbitrarily pick and choose the messages that students can or can’t express,” stated Dalton.
“Other students within the school district have freely worn masks and shirts with political messages, including symbols supporting other political candidates, the LGBTQ community, and the words ‘Black Lives Matter.’ This student deserves an equal opportunity to peacefully express his beliefs.”
The Christian Post reached out to the school district for comment on Dalton's letter and claims that the school permits the wearing of other types of political masks. A response is pending.
Elsewhere in Mississippi, the ADF is handling a similar case in which a third-grade student was prohibited from wearing a face mask that had the phrase “Jesus Loves Me” written on it.
Earlier this week, the ADF filed a lawsuit on behalf of Lydia Booth against officials with the Simpson County School District and Simpson Central School.
Simpson County Superintendent Greg Paes, one of the defendants named in the suit, sent out a letter to students, families and staff last month soon after the Booth incident.
Paes wrote that the school district “does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability, marital status or age in admission or access to, or treatment of employment in, its programs or activities.”
“Masks cannot display political, religious, sexual or any inappropriate symbols, gestures or statements that may be offensive, disruptive or deemed distractive to the school environment,” stated Paes.
“This expectation was outlined in our restart plan and is specific to masks only. The principal and Superintendent will be the final authority on the appropriateness of any mask worn to school. Wearing school colors, the school mascot or simply having a blank mask is encouraged."