A Georgia seventh-grader had quite the statement planned for his field trip to CNN, but his school ruined it all.
Jaxon Jester, son of elected local officials Nancy and Stan Jester, donned a shirt that mocked CNN’s logo as “FNN,” standing for “Fake News Network,” on the morning of his school’s trip to visit the network’s Atlanta headquarters. However, a teacher at his school asked him to remove the shirt before the trip even began — and now his parents are livid, saying the school violated his First Amendment right to free speech.
“This year when the CNN tour was announced, my 7th grade son Jaxon asked me if he could purchase an FNN-Fake News Network shirt to wear for his field trip. As an advocate for the First Amendment, I agreed to his request,” Stan Jester wrote in a blog post about the incident. “His mother cautioned him that he might cause a controversy and needed to be prepared for that. He was fully aware of the implications of his decision and made the affirmative choice to wear his shirt.”
The parents reportedly received a phone call from the school’s principal on the morning of the trip, notifying them that their son had been instructed to change his shirt. The Jesters were “disappointed by the hypocrisy” in the school’s decision.
“Some students are celebrated when they make a controversial display during the National Anthem,” the boy’s father continued, pointing out that the school previously issued a statement in defense of student who kneeled for the national anthem on the basis of the First Amendment. “My student was forced to remove his shirt because someone didn’t like it. I defend speech and expression, even if I disagree, or it makes me uncomfortable.”
In the comment’s section, Nancy Jester gave readers an update on what happened after the field trip:
After the class was back from the field trip, the principal and the teacher involved called me. The teacher involved said that she told Jax to change his shirt because she thought his shirt said ‘F-CNN.’ I told her that it absolutely did NOT say that. She apologized and said that she now realizes that the shirt has no profanity or suggestion of profanity on it. The principal stated that he should have been made aware of the situation before Jax was made to change his shirt. He apologized for the incident. We discussed how the shirt could have provided valuable learning opportunities if Jax and his fellow students could have explored how we get news and how we process it. The teacher agreed.
Once home Jax described the situation a little differently. He stated that after he boarded the bus for the trip, the teacher came onto his bus and called his name to come forward. He did so. He felt that he was spoken to in a harsh tone and told he must change. He was respectful and complied. He was very upset but kept that to himself.
While the Jesters are displeased with their son’s school’s decision, others have argued that it wasn’t appropriate for the county commissioner and school board member to send their child off to school wearing the shirt in the first place.