A 14-year-old Pennsylvania schoolboy is fighting back after being sent to detention for wearing a T-shirt bearing the image of a gun in honor of his uncle fighting in Iraq.
Officials at Penn Manor High School in Millersville, Pa., gave Donald Miller III two days of detention in December after he refused to turn his shirt inside out. But Donald and his parents say the shirt is a symbol of patriotism, and they've taken the case to federal court.
Donald's shirt showed a military weapon and the words "Volunteer Homeland Security" on the front. The back of the shirt displayed the words "Special Issue — Resident — Lifetime License — United States Terrorist Hunting Permit — Permit No. 91101 Gun Owner — No Bag Limit" over another image of the weapon.
Miller said he wore the shirt in honor of his uncle, Brian Souders, who is serving in Iraq and who gave it to Miller as a gift.
Donald and Tina Miller filed a federal freedom of speech lawsuit in January against the school district, saying it violated their son's First Amendment rights.
"Donald Miller wears the T-shirt to make the political and emotional statement that he supports his uncle, and all our armed forces, as they bravely exercise their duty to defend this great nation," Miller's attorney, Leonard G. Brown III, wrote in the federal complaint cited in the Sunday News.
The school district is defending its decision, saying it needs to keep students safe during a time of school shootings.
Kevin French, an attorney for Penn Manor, said the school district must create a safe environment, and Miller's T-shirt violated school policy.
"Students who come to school enjoy limited First Amendment rights," French told the Sunday News. "But the school district has the right to enforce policies that protect students."
A federal judge will review this case on March 31.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.