High Schooler Challenges Suspension Over AK-47 T-Shirt

Tuesday, 13 May 2014 07:32 PM

By Jason Devaney

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A high school student in the Chicago suburb of Hinsdale says he was wrongly punished for wearing to school a T-shirt that depicted an assault rifle.

Chris Borg, 18, a senior and Eagle Scout, wore the shirt in question on May 6. On the back of the shirt was an outline of an AK-47 assault rifle, the URL for a club that supports gun rights, and the phrase "Team AK."

Borg told the Chicago Tribune that hall monitors stopped him outside school, and then the dean of students, Kimberly Dever, gave him three options: turn the shirt inside out, put on another shirt, or go home.

"I decided to go home for the day because I felt it was an infringement of my First Amendment right to freedom of expression," Borg told the Hinsdale Township High School District 86 school board on Monday during a hearing that challenges the fact that he was sent home. He wants to have the suspension removed from his academic record.

The school's handbook, according the Tribune, says clothing "deemed vulgar, inappropriate, unsafe or disruptive to the educational process (e.g., advertising/display of alcohol, drugs, tobacco, sexual innuendo)" could result in disciplinary action.

Borg's shirt was called unsafe and disruptive by school officials.

"Pictures of firearms can be found in our history textbooks, but you don't see people freaking out about that," Borg said.

Superintendent Bruce Law said the school had the right to suspend Borg for the day based on the handbook's dress code.

"Every school I've ever worked at has restrictions on what a student can wear when it's offensive or could be predicted to be offensive, when it promotes drugs, alcohol, or violence," Law said in the Tribune story.

Borg told The Doings Hinsdale, a sister paper of the Chicago Sun Times, that he had previously worn the shirt to school about 10 times. No one said anything to him about it until the latest incident, he said.

Borg bought the shirt at a gun range last fall and has been instructed about gun safety and marksmanship.

"Guns don't have to be for killing," Borg told The Doings Hinsdale. "They are tools you can use for shooting targets, hunting, or self-defense. This is my hobby, and it is recognized as an Olympic sport."

Borg's father, Kevin Borg, told the Tribune his son was not trying to promote violence by wearing the shirt.

"He's not advocating violence. He's an Eagle Scout. He's a straight-up kid," Kevin Borg said. "He's 18. He makes his own decisions. I respect his right to express his feelings."

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