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Rantz: Surprisingly, Seattle Public Schools dress code supports ‘MAGA’ clothing

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

When I saw Seattle Public School dress code policy presented as a social justice argument, I was, admittedly, pessimistic. But it turns out that this year’s dress code allows political speech, including the promotion of conservative messages. I’m admittedly surprised.

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It’s not so much that I’m shocked a public school would allow for the display of content students and staff may disagree with; it’s pretty clear that students can’t be punished for simply wearing a conservative-themed shirt. When you present arguments based on feelings of predominantly progressive students and staff, I tend to assume it’s a message to conservative students that they’re not welcome. I’m just surprised that they’re so open about this policy.

The policy pretty much allows for anything beyond exceptionally revealing attire, or clothing that promotes illegal activity or including pornography. The goal is to allow students to express “individuality without fear of unnecessary discipline or body shaming” and the policy aims to treat everyone equally.

But, the policy does prohibit clothing that might “Demonstrate hate group association/affiliation and/or use hate speech targeting groups based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious affiliation, or other protected groups.”

Hate speech is a legally useless term. It doesn’t mean anything other than someone decided to deem the speech hateful. It runs the gamut to what reasonable people would shun (racial slurs, for example) to what irrational activists claim is hateful (simply displaying “MAGA”). But “hate speech” in almost every context used to justify censorship, is actually protected speech.

So it got me wondering: given adults pretend “MAGA” gear is the new Klan get-up, or a message like “Blue Lives Matter” or positions on enforcing immigration laws are somehow hateful, would a Seattle policy allow for conservative students to proudly display their “individuality without fear of unnecessary discipline?” It turns out the answer is categorically yes.

First, a spokesperson emailed the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH the following statement:

The new dress code does include specific restrictions on clothing – no hate speech, weapons, alcohol, drugs or pornography. The new code is specifically designed to make the student the decision maker of what’s appropriate, while providing the latitude for student self expression. Political speech is not prohibited, unless it would include any of those elements outlined above.

Then I specifically asked: “To confirm, wearing a MAGA shirt or Blue Lives Matter or one taking a political position on immigration enforcement (pro wall stance) on a shirt would not be deemed hateful. Likewise, Black Lives Matter or Impeach Trump would be similarly protected. Can you confirm if I have that correct?”

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The response from the spokesperson? “You are correct.”

I think this is a big step for Seattle Public School to admit this so openly. Some of their schools are full of educators that openly promote progressive political talking points. And these schools exist in a city that is openly hostile to conservative thought.

While I generally don’t like thanking people for doing the right thing, this feels like one of those times where we should do it: thank you Seattle Public Schools. You’re truly letting students of all political stripes feel more comfortable expressing themselves. If you’re progressive, socialist, conservative, liberal or I-don’t-know-what-I-am, you should be able to wear clothes expressing your opinions. You’ll get some pushback from classmates, but that’s life. This policy lets kids deal with messages they may disagree with — open dialogue with each other, but not school-sponsored punishment. Kudos to SPS.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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