ORCUTT, Calif. – Orcutt Academy High School junior Brett Abel wants his teachers and classmates to think about their vote this election, so he’s worn proactive shirts to school to inspire some critical thinking.
“On September 6th, my school informed me that my shirt was offensive and sexually suggestive,” Abel told KCOY.
The teen wore a t-shirt to school with former president Bill Clinton’s face on the front, just above the word “RAPE.”
“Pretty much I wore this shirt because I want people to know that Bill Clinton is a rapist and that people should look it up and find out more,” Abel said. “I just think people aren’t informed and they need to start doing some research with this upcoming election.”
More than a half dozen former acquaintances of Bill Clinton have accused the former president of sexually assaulting them at various points in his political career, with many claiming Hillary harassed, threatened and intimidated them afterwards.
On Monday, Abel sported a “Hillary for Prison 2016” shirt.
“Teachers tend not to like my t-shirts but the students always like them, they always complement my shirts,” he said.
Orcutt principal Rhett Carter doesn’t like Abel’s Bill Clinton “RAPE” shirt, and he reportedly forced the teen to change it last month. The incident prompted Abel to call in the American Civil Liberties Union, and “they’re now defending me and trying to get the school to change their policies,” the student told KCOY.
Cal Coast News published the school’s dress code, but noted “it is unclear which section of the policy Abel is accused of violating.”
“Clothing, jewelry and personal items (backpacks, fanny packs, gym bags, water bottles, etc.) shall be free of writing, pictures or any other insignia which are crude, vulgar, profane or sexually suggestive, which bear drug, alcohol or tobacco company advertising, promotions and likeness, or which advocate racial, ethnic or religious prejudice. The administration will make final decisions regarding dress code interpretation,” the policy reads.
Carter refused to discuss the situation with KCOY, other than to state the school has a zero tolerance dress code.
The ACLU is now in contact with the school district’s attorneys, Cal Coast News reports.
Abel told KCOY the education code is on his side.
“The education code says any school or charter school must allow people to wear shirts that would be constitutionally protected outside of school,” he said. “People should stand up and protect those liberties.”
“A lot of people are backing me up, but also disagreeing, and that’s good. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.”
The situation sparked a vigorous debate in the community and online, with those weighing in seemingly split on whether school officials can squash Abel’s constitutional rights.
“You should wear whatever you want, you should be free for whatever you want, this is a free country, so I think they did wrong, kid’s just wearing a shirt,” father Juan Yanez told KCOY.
“I do believe in free speech,” parent Shannon Power said, “but in a school setting I don’t think it’s appropriate.”
“Either there is freedom of expression or there isn’t,” Mikayla wrote in the KCOY comments. “If I have to abide by some idiot stomping on our flag, some precious snowflakes can abide seeing/hearing the truth.”
“Kid, there’s a time and a place for your shirt. School is not the place. All you, your mommy, daddy and the ACLU are gonna do is force the school to waste precious funds (that’s MONEY) to protect the school’s ability to enforce a certain code that is in place to ensure a learning ACADEMIC environment,” Gabriel Hernandez wrote. “AFTER school hours, go ahead, wear your shirt and run around all over Santa Maria and show it off. That you do have a right to do.”
“Hillary Clinton said rape victims should be believes,” commenter “Julain Assange” countered, “But oh yeah, unless Bill is the rapist, right Gabriel?”
“I definitely do not agree with this kids politics but we should applaud that he is engaged in the discussion and creating opportunity for his peers to agree or disagree,” Frans Sis wrote. “He should be allowed to express his opinion, we don’t have to agree with it.”