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Fresno boy wears Trump hat to school in First Amendment stand

Powers-Ginsburg third grader Logan Autry, wearing his Make American Great Again hat, gives a thumbs up to Donald Trump during the candidate’s rally in Fresno on May 27.
Powers-Ginsburg third grader Logan Autry, wearing his Make American Great Again hat, gives a thumbs up to Donald Trump during the candidate’s rally in Fresno on May 27. jwalker@fresnobee.com

Logan Autry, 9, is the biggest little fan of Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump.

Logan decided to wear his red Trump “Make America Great Again” hat to Powers-Ginsburg Elementary School on June 2, days after the boy had seen the candidate up close at Trump’s Fresno rally.

Then school officials raised concerns.

“They told me to take my hat off because it brings negative emotions to the other children who don’t like him,” Logan said to television station KSEE 24. School officials based their request on the reactions of other students.

“They were saying they didn’t like Trump. They were saying he was stupid,” Logan told KSEE. “I had to explain to them what Donald Trump was actually doing.”

The 9-year-old refused to heed school officials’ requests to remove the hat and cited his First Amendment right to free expression.

“I still said, ‘No, I am not taking it off,’ and I said no,” Logan said. “Then the principal told me to take it off, but I still said no.”

On Monday national media picked up Logan’s case because it involved three powerful forces: Donald Trump; a 9 year old; and the First Amendment.

Brooke Ashjian, a board member for Fresno Unified School District, said this case affects all of FUSD, not just Powers elementary.

Ashjian, a fervent Trump backer, supports Logan’s right to wear the hat to school.

“If he wants to wear the hat, he should. If people are disturbed, too bad,” Ashjian said. “There is so much political correctness people are afraid to rally. We are catering to the thugs – this is ridiculous.”

He said society has allowed a double standard for bullying, where certain minority groups are protected, but those exercising the First Amendment are not.

“We missed a good opportunity to teach a great civics lesson,” he said. Teachers could have talked to students about the different candidates and their platforms and even asked kids to vote, he said.

But Fresno Unified School District Superintendent Michael Hanson called the hat’s impact a “substantial disruption.”

“However, to be clear, school officials never imposed an outright ban,” he said in an emailed statement. “The student was not banned from school and was never banned from wearing the hat.”

He said school officials reached out multiple times to Logan’s guardians to inform them that the student could continue to wear the hat as long as it was not disruptive. But school officials have not heard back from Logan’s guardians, Hanson said.

According to the district’s dress code, hats can be worn only outside the classroom. But the district prohibits hats that cause safety concerns, draw undue attention to the wearer or tend to detract from the educational process.

Ashjian said the hat doesn’t speak, but it represents Logan’s positive outlook on America’s future.

“I look at the hat, and I see someone who wants to save America,” Ashjian said. “That hat represents freedom to some people.”

JoAnna Kroeker: 559-441-6247, @jobethkroeker

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