Skip to content

5-year-old banned from wearing U. of Michigan shirt at Oklahoma City school

Aug 21, 2012, 2:11 PM EDT

michigan shirt

Pictured here is 5-year-old Cooper Barton — outlaw! His crime? Wearing a University of Michigan shirt to school. The principal at Wilson Elementary in Oklahoma City made Cooper, a kindergartner, turn his shirt inside-out last week when he showed up with the shirt, which was purchased by his parents, who are ardent Wolverines fans.

Here’s the problem: There’s actually a rule in the Oklahoma City Public Schools District that prohibits college team apparel of any kind, unless that apparel is Oklahoma University or Oklahoma State, which is OK.

“They should really worry about academics. It wasn’t offensive. He’s five,” says Cooper’s mother Shannon Barton.

Barton says her son had to turn his shirt inside out on the playground behind a tree.

Oh the shame, the shame.

Reminds me of this.

Seems that the shirt ban went into effect in 2005, the product of a suggestion by a gang task force. Other clothing prohibited in OKC schools:

  • Santanic cult dress, witchcraft and related symbols.
  • Professional sports team apparel. (Thunder down, kids).
  • Clothing with profanity, put-downs or suggestive slogans.
  • Obscene or vulgar jewelry. (Joan Rivers now in police custody).
  • Caps or jackets associated with secret societies.

I hear that the Wilson Elementary chapter of the Skull and Bones Society has produced seven of the past eight second-grade class presidents.

  1. dallasstars9 - Aug 21, 2012 at 7:18 PM

    Go Blue!

  2. eugenesaxe - Aug 21, 2012 at 7:59 PM

    Carlos is not pleased.

  3. alligatorsnapper - Aug 21, 2012 at 9:15 PM

    Shame on the OKC School Board. Instead of it being Cooper with The Big House shirt, what if it was Chase with a Texas Longhorns shirt, would they have taken him out and flogged him according to Sharia Law?

    If a OU or OK State shirt is acceptable, then any other college shirts must also be acceptable under law. Otherwise it is unlawful discrimination.

    What kind of lesson is that teaching a child, if they tell them their home team college team t-shirts are acceptable but not others which are out of state. A lawyer could have a great day with this matter. It could involve inter-state commerce laws, equal protection clauses, free speech rights, and other pertaining It would seem there would be some civil liberty and trade lawyers nearby who would love to bring a law suit on this.

  4. dowhatifeellike - Aug 21, 2012 at 11:45 PM

    If I were a lawyer, I’d be all over it. This case has so many angles one of them is bound to stick.

    • danandcasey - Aug 22, 2012 at 10:51 AM

      First off, this rule seems ridiculous to me on its face. That being said, a school has wide latitude to exclude certain speech through prior restraint, if the speech may disrupt the school. To past constitutional muster, the school must show that it has a compelling interest. The interest here is to prevent disruptions in the school – a compelling interest that has past constitutional muster. Of course, a school cannot just say they are preventing a disruption, it must show a connection between the speech and a disruption *for example, courts have recently found that gay tolerance t-shirts are speech with no rational connection to school disruptions).

      The keys to the school prevailing in this specific fact scenario are 1) the tying of t-shirts with school emblems to gang activity (as suggested in the article above) and 2) the lack of a link to gang activity for OU and OSU clothing. So, the school’s argument is that certain gangs show their “colors” by wearing a certain university’s logos (but not OU and OSU). And, while it is unlikely that little Cooper was expressing his loyalty as a future member of the Angels of Death gang, the school’s blanket policy allows it to control the wearing of gang colors without a case-by-case analysis.

  5. dowhatifeellike - Aug 21, 2012 at 11:46 PM

    BTW, what happened to the whole red state “personal freedom, personal responsibility” stuff?

    • alligatorsnapper - Aug 22, 2012 at 6:12 AM

      From what I could find out this had more to do with being “red” but not “red state.”

      • paperlions - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:55 PM

        It doesn’t. “Red states” are far more involved in trying to tell people all the things they are not allowed to do.

  6. ponsonbybritt - Aug 22, 2012 at 7:06 AM

    Wait’ll the first instance of gang-bangers wearing OU or OSU apparel show up.

  7. mogogo1 - Aug 22, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    The rule is laughable. My favorite part was their banning “Caps or jackets associated with secret societies.” So, apparently, shirts associated with secret societies are just fine?

    Wouldn’t you love to have heard the debate within the committee when they decided that gangs are drawn to all sports team apparel EXCEPT Sooners and OSU stuff?

    • dowhatifeellike - Aug 22, 2012 at 2:11 PM

      Does Oklahoma even have any gang activity?

      I grew up around gangs in Baltimore but now I live in Denver and everyone is like “gangs!!!” and I’m like “lol what? where?” I can’t imagine that OKC is any worse.

  8. thraiderskin - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    So does that mean these kids can’t wear the colors of red, blue, yellow(gold), black or any other color that could possibly affiliated with a gang. The whole story is about the tail wagging the dog and is just sad. Let the kid wear his U of M shirt. When he starts packing heat, slinging drugs and throwing gang signs you cant take action.