A New Hampshire high school hosted an “America Day” celebration on Monday, encouraging students to go patriotic in red, white and blue clothing. But when a freshman student turned up in Trump T-shirt — with “Make America Great Again” written across the front — her principal reportedly balked.
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“I thought for America Day it would be OK and there wouldn’t be an issue,” Ciretta MacKenzie told the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper.
The 14-year-old was called to the principal’s office, where Epping High School Principal Brian Ernest allegedly told her that the shirt, purchased on a trip to Washington, D.C. last year, was too political and could make others uncomfortable given Trump’s controversial image. MacKenzie has also claimed that he suggested separating her from other students if she didn’t change. “Surprised” by his reaction, she opted to wear a friend’s sweatshirt over the T-shirt.
MacKenzie’s parents were also taken aback by the situation.
“Is censorship the answer or talking about it? I thought it was the wrong way out,” her father, Jason MacKenzie told the paper.
After emailing Ernest about the issue, the girl’s mom, Rose MacKenzie, accepted that he was simply trying to protect the high schooler from potential backlash from other students.
“I explained that we need to separate political views from patriotism,” Ernest told her in an email. “In today’s climate it is important to not mix church or state.”
Her daughter, however, feels that she should have been able to keep the shirt on while reporting any harassing feedback to school officials.
“I don’t think I should have been told to cover it up,” she said.
While superintendent Valerie McKenney declined to comment on the issue, at least one school official agrees with MacKenzie.
School board chairman Dave Mylott told the paper that he plans to raise the issue with his colleagues at a meeting later this month.
“I don’t think it was maliciously intended, but I think it sets a precedent that I don’t think we want to have,” Mylott said of Ernest’s reaction to the shirt.
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