SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine – A South Portland High School student who was ridiculed by his teachers and classmates for supporting Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is getting the last laugh.
This spring, sophomore Connor Mullen purchased a red Make America Great Again cap to support his chosen presidential candidate and it immediately drew attacks from both teachers and students, including one educator who told him “thank God you can’t vote” and a student who tossed his hat in the garbage, The Portland Press Herald reported in April.
“I knew kids would pick on me about it, that’s just kids being kids, but when the adults started doing it I thought that’s problematic,” he told the news site. “This is a school that preaches equality.”
After weeks of daily harassment, Mullen reported the problems to an assistant principal, who pointed out “the charged political climate and the attention the hat might draw” and “suggested that (Mullen) might consider not wearing the hat,” Principal Ryan Caron said.
The issue, and the school’s initial reaction, was also highlighted by WSCH television station, sparking more harassment until superintendent Ken Kunin reportedly intervened by chastising staff who targeted the teen.
Today, RedAlertPolitics published a column by Mullen that detailed the abuse, as well as an update on how his situation has developed over the last few months.
I texted a couple people about my ordeal, and before I knew it local news stations wanted to talk to me, leading to an interview with Howie Carr, and then a sit-down meeting with our Gov. Paul LePage (R-Maine).
After all the controversy over my hat, I was invited to stand in a V.I.P. section at Trump’s rally in Maine and got to meet the Republican nominee. The experience was surreal, something I’ve replayed in my head over and over again.
The whole experience from buying the hat to meeting Trump opened my eyes: Whether you support Trump, Hillary, or anyone else, treat everyone with respect.
The column included a picture of Mullen taking a picture with The Donald, wearing his Make America Great Again hat, of course.
Mullen, unfortunately, isn’t the only young Trump supporter to get the third degree from school officials for backing the Republican candidate.
In June, Fresno, California third grader Logan Autry was told by officials at Powers-Ginsburg Elementary “to take my hat off because it brings negative emotions to the other children who don’t like them,” he told WTVR.
“They were saying they didn’t like Trump, they were saying he was stupid,” Autry said. “I had to explain to them what Donald Trump was actually doing.”
Autry, who had his hat signed by the Republican presidential candidate at a rally in Fresno in May, “knows a lot about politics,” his uncle, Zacc Autry, told WTVR.
“They should be able to let kids freely express themselves without the fear of being beat up or harassed or bullied,” his uncle said.
Autry said school officials had no right to demand that he remove his hat, and he flatly refused.
“I still said ‘no I am not taking it off’ and … then the principal told me to take it off but I still said no,” Autry said.
“It’s my favorite hat,” he said. “The Frist Amendment says I can wear my hat.”