Conner Mullen, a student at South Portland High School in Maine, says other students, teachers, and administrators bullied him last year because he supports Donald Trump as the Republican nominee for president and likes to wear a red hat with the words “Make America Great Again” written on it to school, he wrote on Red Alert Politics.com.
Just two days [after I bought the hat], I walked into school, donning my newest prized possession on my head, and was greeted with stares from my classmates and muffled comments made under their breath. I knew this was the intolerance Trump had been talking about.
Negative comments turned to actions the next day. Other students began knocking the hat off my head, insulting me, and trying to shame me into not wearing it. This went on for weeks, even two teachers started throwing verbal jabs at me, telling me to take the hat off in class, informing the class that Trump voters were ‘dumb,’ and one said to me, “Thank God you can’t vote.”
My parents told me it would pass. I hoped they were right but things seemed to only get worse. One day, a girl walked up to me and threw my hat in the garbage, and I saw three people taking photos of her doing it. I had had enough. My friend who loaned me the money for the hat backed me up on all the abuse I had taken. We went to the assistant principal, who advised me to just leave the MAGA gear at home.
Mr Mullen has also been interviewed by news outlets, like WCSH-TV (NBC affiliate) in Portland, which contacted the school to get the alternative perspective.
Superintendent of Schools Ken Kunin responded, “Schools need to be a place where kids of a variety of political persuasions, religions, and races can all come together in a respectful dialogue,” Kunin said. “Sometimes we do that well and sometimes we make stumbles. … Our job is to always do it better.”
In telling the Portland Press Herald that disciplinary action had been taken against the student who threw Mr Mullen’s hat in the trash, Mr Kunin said he told the student, “That’s not OK. You don’t do that. We defend our students’ First Amendment rights.”