Student told to remove USMC T-shirt showing crossed rifles or face suspension


Another student has been told by school officials to take off his Marine Corps T-shirt or face suspension after a teacher found the crossed rifles shown on the front to be inappropriate.

An Illinois teacher told a 14-year-old that he had to remove his Marine Corps T-shirt or face suspension. The shirt depicts the iconic crossed rifles that appear on most enlisted Marines’ rank insignia.
(Courtesy of Dan McIntyre)

Daniel McIntyre of Genoa, Ill., said he could tell something was bothering his 14-year-old son, Michael, when he got off the school bus on Monday.

“He said, ‘Dad, I’m really upset about what happened at school today,’ ” McIntyre said. ” ‘My teacher threatened to suspend me because she thought my T-shirt was inappropriate and I needed to cover it up or turn it inside-out.’ ”

That shocked his dad because the T-shirt that had his teacher upset was green with a pair of crossed rifles below the word, “Marine.”

“I just couldn’t believe it,” McIntyre said. “I was shocked. I thought, ‘What about that shirt would make her suggest that it was inappropriate?’ ”

Michael, an eighth-grader at Genoa-Kingston Middle School, complied and wore a jacket over the crossed rifles T-shirt for the rest of the day. McIntyre bought the shirt for Michael at the county fair because they have family friends who are Marines.

“I am very close with Marines,” McIntyre said. “Michael and I have gone with Marines when they’ve done some motorcycle toy runs. These guys are like heroes to me.”

To know that his son was asked to cover a shirt that, to him, represents selflessness is not something McIntyre can accept.

“We support all the branches of the military, but the Marines are kind of special,” McIntyre said. “They never stop giving to the country. They’re always looking for ways to do more for everyone else.”

Crossed rifles are found on Marines’ chevrons in the rank insignia worn by lance corporals through master sergeants. As worn today, crossed rifles date back to 1958 when the Corps created a new enlisted rank structure to include the introduction of lance corporal in the E-3 paygrade, according to the Marine Corps History Division.

A sixth-grader was told to remove this shirt by school administrators in May because they found the image of the bulldog to be inappropriate. Now a 14-year-old Illinois student was asked to remove a shirt with the iconic image of Marine Corps’ crossed rifles. (Courtesy of Sandy Griffith)

Marine Corps Times reported in May that a Mississippi sixth-grader was told to remove his USMC shirt because administrators found the picture of the anatomically correct bulldog to be offensive.  The front of that shirt showed the dog’s head and body with the words “If you are not the lead dog.” The back showed the dog’s rear with the words “The view never changes.”

Jordan Griffith, 13, of Ellisville, Miss., received the shirt from his older brother, Lance Cpl. Timothy Swann Jr., a member of 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. Swann gave it to his little brother while on his pre-deployment leave.

On the crossed rifles issue, McIntyre said the school should change the dress code because he has heard that other students have run into similar problems when wearing military-related gear to school. He said he sees nothing in the school dress code that would prohibit his son from wearing the crossed rifles Marine Corps shirt.

What do you think?

Are school administrators out of touch with military culture? Or does a symbol such as the Corps’ iconic crossed rifles risk perpetuating gun violence?


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  1. Stupid stupid stupid. There’s a distinct difference between wearing something with pride for our country and promoting “violence” or innapropriate behavior. If anything, that’s the teacher disrespecting the Corps. Don’t get me wrong, any military T-shirt CAN foot far, such as a bloodied skull with bullet shells and what not for a child of that age, but in this case, the child knows what the crossed rifles are for/signify. The Images of the T-shirts shown are not innapropriate.

  2. My name is Johnny Riley. I am a resident of Laurel, Mississippi (About 5 miles from Ellisville). I spent 6 years on active duty, in the United States Marine Corps. I was listening, in May of 2012 to the Rush Limbaugh radio program when Jordan Griffith’s mother called in, regarding the bulldog tshirt incident. It got me pretty fired up. Like many others, I passed on the link to the story on my facebook page. Come to find out, the whole truth was not presented, up front. I went to South Jones Elementary (Where Jordan Griffith attended) a few days later to meet with the Principal Pickering and Vice-Principal Newsome, to get their side of the story. I’ve known both principals for several years. With regards to the young man’s Marine Corps t-shirt, the mom neglected to tell Rush Limbaugh that the shirt showed anatomically correct male doggy dangly parts on it. I absolutely support the student’s right to exercise free speech, but the depiction of a male dog’s genitalia openly displayed, is absolutely improper in an elementary school setting. Imagine your daughter, neice, or granddaughter sitting behind that young man, with that view. The photo our local TV station posted was of such poor quality, that said parts could NOT be seen. This omission on their behalf, only served to stoke the fires of controversy. The young man had good motives, but used poor judgment. This incident should never have been blown so far out of proportion & many of us were too quick to speak, when we should have been slow to listen and wait for all of the facts. I passionately love this country and my military brothers and sisters. In NO WAY were the principals trying to attack the United States Marine Corps, or any other branch of our military. They were simply doing their jobs and trying to maintain good order and discipline at their school. Assistant Principal Newsome has a son, and daughter-in-law, who are both serving in the United States Air Force. All of the staff, at the school, has a strong affinity for our military, our veterans, and our great nation. I’ll compare it to this: I support breast cancer awareness, but would not condone the wearing of a shirt with women’s breasts vividly displayed on it. Many folks once wore Lance Armstrong’s LIVESTRONG yellow wristbands. Armstrong is a survivor of testicular cancer. If he came out with a line of shorts displaying cartoonish male genitalia on them, I wouldn’t support him by purchasing or wearing them. The bottom line is, I appreciate the young man’s supporting his Marine Corps brother, but he could have simply turned his shirt inside out for the day, as he was asked to do, and this controversy would have been avoided. The mother was given the opportunity to speak with the principals but chose not to. In the end, cooler heads prevailed and the whole truth came out. Common sense has to come into play, at some point….

  3. Agreed, Johnny. The Bulldog T-shirt went over the top a bit. IMHO, perfectly good for him and his buddies, but I for one don’t care to see the gentialia of any critter in my face. With regard to the other T-Shirt…SHAME on that teacher. Instead of commending the young man for supporting our military, he/she punished him for nothing more than patriotism or love of all things military. Geez, if this had been the case when my youngest Marine was in school, he’d have never attended at all. He lived in Marine Corps T-shirts.

  4. Mr. Riley, your point would be valid if removal of such display was across the board. I have children aged 7 – 32 yrs of age. So a wee bit of insight on public educations double standard. The very reason this retired Marine homeschools his 7 year old.

  5. My stepdaughter’s middle school had the same rules that prohibited anything displaying firearms, drugs, etc.

    At the end of the year, the schools yearbook contained a large advertisement for the NRA. She brought this to the attention of the faculty who pretty much blew her off so she contacted a local newspaper. Within days she was interviewed by Conan O’Brian on national television and I’ve lost track of how many newspapers picked up the story. She was branded by the NRA as a threat to the second amendment and sadly, the issue was taken from one context to another. The point is, the school was operating under double standards. They would have done the same to this boy and his support of our armed forces yet when money was on the table, the opted to bend their rules.

  6. Ok about the tee shirt with the dog on it what is the deal its a pic of a real dog get over it dog don’t wear pants do they !!!!!

    We the People have let the Obama Crew run over us for long enough we need to stand up and fight for are rights ! If you don’t want to fight for your rights then sit down and shut up im tried of hearing all this BS

    HK Newcom USMC

  7. Former Sgt. 96-03 on

    On page 14 and 15 the school was specific regarding certain images but does not specifically mention images of weapons. I guess “or other inappropriate images” is a catch all for everything else.

    I agree with another post, there are millions if not more anotomically correct dogs in the US. Lets round them up and fit them with pants..ridiculous! This cross rifle thing should not even be an issue. The only one who had a problem with it was the teacher, probably because of some personsal views on the subject. I suppose they don’t allow any Marines in the building in uniform from the rank of LCpl to MSgt because those cross rifles would be offensive. Really?

  8. I haven’t seen official Marine insignia with the word “MARINES” and two crossed rifles below it. Maybe if the shirt had actually had official insignia, it wouldn’t have been seen as “promoting violence,” as the school code says.

    Beyond that, a T-shirt that talked up Marines without dragging firearms artwork into the classroom would probably have passed everyone’s muster.

    As the story says, it wasn’t “Marines,” it was the dog junk. It wasn’t Marines,” it was the kid-sized rifle billboard in class.

    This doesn’t have to be an issue. Kids everywhere in the nation are freaked out with the news that 20 little kids were slaughtered by a nut with a gun. It ain’t rocket science why 12-year-olds can’t be the center of attention wearing their gun shirts in class.

  9. “there are millions if not more anotomically correct dogs in the US. Lets round them up and fit them with pants..ridiculous!”

    Or, if your daughter is sitting at her desk in class and a dog’s junk is 14 inches in front of her face while the teacher is teaching, let’s see how fast you march into the school to tell the principle about it. 🙂

    Kids aren’t in school to stare at dog genitals or to stare at killing machines. That would be a dumb waste of tax money, for starters.

  10. No wonder they come and shoot up the schools. You tread all over their rights you teach them the good is evil and evil is good. The rage that builds up is going to come out somewhere.

  11. @Bill Housden. I googled it and there certainly are insignias like this . But that is however besides the point. it is a form of expression protected by the first amdndment and you dont lose your rights when you walk into a public building.

  12. former Lcpl, current Deputy on

    This isn’t about gun violence or any other such weak kneed reactionary idea. This is about teachers, a profession dominated by hard core liberal socialists, trying very hard to indoctrinate children in their own leftist beliefs. They hate the military, much as they hate the consitution and all those who believe in it. The educational profession is so far left it’s unbelievable, and they make it their duty to brainwash our kids from kindergarten to college. And remember, inside every liberal is a fascist just waiting to come out. These folks hate freedom, and those that are willing to defend it.

  13. Most Marine Corps shirt have crossed rifles or a rifle or things considered to play a part in protecting this country Bill. That shirt has balls hanging down in the back that are very faint you can barely see it….. the dogs other parts are not showing in the front. And Johnny where were you stationed and what yrs were you in

  14. tonykeywest “it is a form of expression protected by the first amdndment and you dont lose your rights when you walk into a public building.”

    Really? That is why so many students start singing rap songs in math class, no doubt.

    No, it isn’t a form of expression protected in a school classroom. Students are treated equally, but like the military, their citizen rights don’t enter the building when they do.

  15. Perhaps the libtards in our education system would have approved of the t-shirt if it had featured an image of two men kissing? Or smoking pot? Or a woman having an abortion?

    Oh, notice, it happened in Illinois. Bet that made Obozo proud.

  16. I have had talks like this before to teachers. I find it plain censorship! Like the rest of our governing body, they have lost touch with core values. I,for one, am getting fed up with oversensitive whiners crying every time they don’t get their way. I feel it’s coming time for the hard working middle class patriots of this country to open a big can of stfu and pour it down the whiners throats. Maybe a little kma for dessert if they still feel but hurt. Just my opinion…

  17. The teacher calmly asked the student to turn his shirt inside out or put on his sweatshirt. He did. Class went on. Teachers cannot suspend students, that’s up to administrators. The teacher made no such threat to suspend. The situation wasn’t even serious enough for the teacher to make a referral to the principal.

    Daniel MCIntyre apparently wants his moment in publicity by changing the circumstances of the situation–and/or his son completely lied to him about what happened.

  18. Guns are legal in this country. No threatening language was present, the teacher should be disciplined for not being fair and picking out a student because his shirt offended her personally.

  19. While everybody’s going off on the district….

    The Superintendent is quoted over at Fox as saying, “The teacher is obviously allowed to question anything they feel might be a violation of dress code, but again, had an administrator been allowed to respond, this could have been taken care of yesterday.”

    A teacher makes a wacky decision, and it’s the district’s fault? Why didn’t anybody take it to the administration at the time? You’d think such staunch supporters of Marine Corps would understand chain of command.

  20. I am a former corporal of the USMC. It is sad that a student can’t support a military branch that maybe a family member or friend may be apart of. I have given my cousin numerous shirts i have acquired over my deployments in the marine corps. His school never said anything about him wearing it

  21. The ONLY issue here was guns, not the Marines. As soon as the principle became aware this was a US military T-shirt the child was told it DID NOT violate their dress code. My family includes many former & active Marines. I’m not proud of their guns. I’m proud if their ideals. Images of guns don’t need to be on child-size T-shirts.

  22. USMC wife (and a teacher) on

    I’m wondering how many of the comments here are really coming from Marines.

    If the student’s shirt had displayed the official Marine Corps logo, there would have been no problem. It was one of those cheap, counterfeit tee-shirts like you’d see sold out on some sidewalk. No official Marine Corps issue has big old clip-art assault weapons plastered all over it.

    And the teacher had to make a call, based upon school policy against clothing that advertises violence. Guns exist to do violence, and no real Marine would argue with that.

    If she were to let this kid wear a shirt with guns on it, what happens next week when one of the local Crips or Sureños shows up in a gang shirt with guns on it? Seriously, gentlemen, put yourself in the teacher’s place. We have to draw the line somewhere.

    And the school has received so many threats over this incident that now the local police have to be camped out all around the campus to keep the staff AND the children safe.

    No possible way is this kid’s father in any way connected to the Marine Corps, either. Did he handle the situation like a Marine? Hell no. He went running to the press crying that some woman was picking on him and his kid. He threw his own boy under the bus, too, just to get his face on the news for being Victim of the Week.

    Can’t believe some of you are defending this idiot.

  23. I am a Marine. I served honorably. I live in the town where all this happened. The family surrounding this issue support the Military. However if it had been handled within the school district this would have never happened. Now there are death threats, police presence at the schools and district offices, threatening calls to the school and threatening emails sent.

  24. Retired Navy/Retired Teacher on

    I do not understand how this became such an issue. This has nothing to do with free speech and everything to do with teaching our children how to follow rules and promote an environment of good order and discipline. Everywhere we go, there is some type of dress code. A Marine would not be allowed to wear either of these shirts to work…they have to wear a uniform, clean, neatly pressed with appropriate insignia. These students are free to wear these shirts on their free time, but school is not the appropriate place. Some people must wear suits to work. Are we going to cry discrimination if someone shows up in a t-shirt with anything written on it? Our schools are a gun free, drug free environment. This should include clothing. Our children also need to be taught when it is appropriate and when it isn’t. I am retired Navy, I am an expert shot with a pistol and rifle, I own a handgun, I am a member of the NRA. I have several tattoos. I had to cover my tattoos while at work. I couldn’t wear a t-shirt except on Friday, and then it had to be school spirit related. My tats are not offensive and I didn’t want to cover them. Free speech right? Wrong. It’s called dress code and if I want to keep my job, I will comply. Don’t our kids need to be taught to comply? It has nothing to do with supporting the Marine Corps. I would have had to ask this student to cover his t-shirt or turn it inside out, and there is no one who respects or supports the Marine Corps more than I do. I was a Hospital Corpsman in the Navy. Pick your battles. Next, you’ll say shirts with drugs or drinks supporting bars are free speech and should be allowed in school. People, we have to get a grip! There are a million t-shirt designs that support the Marine Corps that don’t have guns or bulldog genitalia on them. Our children need to be taught compliance and, if it is a really important issue, take it up with the school board, not the press!

  25. jerry-new york on

    Wearing printed t-shirts to school is inappropriate. Wearing a t-shirt portraying the same kinds of weapons used in the worst school shooting in U.S. history is callous and stupid – adding USMC doesn’t make it okay. Wearing a t-shirt depicting a dog’s genitals is disrespectful to the entire school. Attemping to turn this into a phony slam against the Marine Corps for cheap political points insults the intelligence of every American and especially the Corps.

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