Students' pro-Trump hats blurred out in yearbook, school district apologizes
CTVNews.ca Staff, with files from WPMT
Published Friday, May 24, 2019 11:55AM EDT
A Pennsylvania school district is apologizing after two students’ pro-Trump hats were blurred out in the yearbook.
Jeremy Gebhart and his friend wore their red baseball caps with U.S. President Donald Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” during Littlestown High School’s spirit week in October. He said they’re both strong supporters of the president.
“I just think he wants to help our country,” Gebhart told local television station WPMT.
During the festivities, someone snapped a photo of the boys wearing their hats. The image was later published in the high school’s yearbook with a noticeable alteration.
Trump’s name and his slogan had been removed from the photo so that it appeared as if the students were wearing plain red caps.
“They, like, blurred our hats out,” Gebhart said. “I was like, ‘Wow. Are you serious?’”
The edited photo also surprised Gebhart’s mother.
“I was infuriated because he wears that hat because he supports our president,” Lorraine Gebhart said. “He’s not doing anything illegal whatsoever. He’s wearing a hat of support.”
The teenager said he felt like his right to free speech had been violated by whoever modified the photo.
“Everybody has First Amendment rights to have freedom of speech and they’re allowed to think what they want, say what they want, but they’re not allowed to take that away from other people,” he said.
In response, the superintendent of the Littlestown School District issued a statement apologizing.
“The mistake was not noticed during the editorial preview process prior to print. We apologize on behalf of the yearbook club. It is not the policy or practice of the district to improperly censor speech,” Christopher Bigger said in a statement.
Lorraine Gebhart said it was upsetting that someone tried to silence her son’s political expression.
“Someone did this on purpose to blur out that Trump logo and make their own statement,” she said. “It is OK to disagree with people’s views, but what’s not OK is taking your freedom of speech and using it to take away someone else’s.”
With a report from Fox43 News’ Jossie Carbonare