School bars 9-year-old fan from wearing Trump hat

By Ben Guarino

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in his hat. Photo / AP
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in his hat. Photo / AP

For many 9-year-olds, tough fashion choices mean having to pick a Star Wars tee over a Spider Man shirt, or deciding which Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle character looks best on a backpack.

Logan Autry is not your average 9-year-old.

Forget Hollywood franchise kitsch. In media interviews, Logan sports Oxford shirts and striped ties, with the entirety of his sartorial boldness concentrated in the bright red hat perched on his head. It might not be high fashion - but it is certainly a statement, and a vogue one at that: "Make America Great Again".

Logan says he is a supporter, as much as a 9-year-old can be, for presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.

There is just one wrinkle, however. The third grader's pro-Trump hat (stock crimson but signed by the businessman at a late May rally) is no longer welcome in hallways of Powers-Ginsburg Elementary School in Fresno, California.

"It's my favourite hat," Logan told CBS 6. "The First Amendment says I can wear my hat." He wore it for three days in a row, outside of class, where the primary school permits hats.

The school, where a student's First Amendment rights may be regulated, saw a disruption. In a statement released to CBS 6, the school district wrote: "We are proud that in this case, our school achieved that goal by allowing the student to wear his hat for several days. However, it is also our responsibility to take precautions when the discourse begins to impact our school climate and interrupt school operations."

Logan says he was bullied about the hat, and that his classmates said Trump was "stupid". After an older child made a particularly inflammatory comment on Friday, a teacher intervened and told Logan to take off the hat, citing safety concerns.

The fashion fracas comes at a time when political tensions are high among students in the Fresno area. Unlike Logan, many are not Donald Trump supporters. Hispanic students interviewed by the Fresno Bee expressed fear and uncertainty that Trump, if elected, might deport them or members of their families, despite their citizenship.

"When he said he was going to deport Mexicans, I was like, what's going to happen to my mum? And if it does happen, am I going to be deported too? Because I'm only half," Vanessa Barfield, 15, told the Fresno Bee. "My friends know my dad's white, and so they'll say he supports Trump . . . and I just don't like that at all."

In April, the Southern Poverty Law Centre, an advocacy organisation that monitors extremist hate groups, released a survey arguing that Trump's campaign is triggering "an alarming level of fear and anxiety among children of colour".

In a non-scientific survey of 2000 teachers, the Southern Poverty Law Centre said that more than two-thirds of educators responded that minority students were "terrified" about the election or, as one teacher wrote, that Trump is a "rich racist who hates them".

Trump's hats have become perhaps the most recognisable paraphernalia of the 2016 campaign, embodying the candidate to the point that several hats were burned during recent San Jose protests.

On Friday, Logan - who says he felt Trump's hair at the rally and believes in its authenticity - refused to doff his cap, despite demands from a principal. "The vice-principal came up to me and told me to take my hat off because it brings negative attention from other students. And I said no a few times and then the principal told me again and I still said no and refused," Logan told ABC 30.

Even if Logan wanted to wear his hat outside of school, however, the object reportedly no longer exists. Fox News reports that Logan's dog tore it to shreds.

- Washington Post

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