A mother is suing a school after her daughter was suspended for wearing a pro-Second Amendment shirt to her government class.
According to Blaze Media, Janet Bristow of Johnston, Iowa — a northwest suburb of Des Moines — filed a lawsuit in a U.S. district court on Monday, claiming that the school violated her daughter’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights when it suspended her for wearing the shirt.
The saga began in August 2022 when a teacher at the school, identified as Tom Griffin, told his government students that their rights were limited once they were in his class. Griffin forbade his students from wearing clothes that depicted guns, alcohol or any other inappropriate material.
Bristow’s daughter, identified in court documents as A.B. and was part of Griffin’s students, determined that Griffin was wrong. On Sept. 1, A.B. wore a T-shirt with a picture of a rifle and the phrase, “What part of ‘shall not be infringed’ do you not understand?”
The lawsuit claimed that Griffin dismissed A.B. from class that day and sent her to administration. Bristow arrived at the school and discussed the issue with Ryan Wood the school principal and associate principals Nate Zittergruen and Randy Klein.
A.B. was told to either change her shirt or face suspension. A.B. refused to change her shirt and was issued an out-of-school suspension. However, Bristow revealed that the district’s executive director of school leadership, Chris Billings and Superintendent Laura Kacer reached out to her that evening to apologize for her suspension.
Billing, who previously stated that the shirt violated the school dress code, told Bristow that he had realized that the shirt was a political speech.
Bristow filed the lawsuit because she did not believe the issue was resolved. She also stated that Griffin had not apologized or clarified the issue with his students. Bristow added that Griffin’s inaction left the impression that her A.B. was wrong and that her opinions were not welcome in the class.
The lawsuit lists Griffin and Wood, along with the school district, as the defendants.
The lawsuit seeks to force the school to affirm that clothing featuring guns in a non-threatening and non-violent manner is protected under the First Amendment. Bristow’s lawsuit also seeks a permanent injunction that will prevent the defendants from restricting such clothing in the future.
Finally, the lawsuit seeks compensation for damages, legal costs incurred due to the lawsuit and other relief which the court deems appropriate.