12-Year Old 'Don't Tread in Me' Kid Can Only Wear Iconic Patch 'If No One Complains'

Twitter / Connor Boyack

Both Megan Fox and I have covered the story of 12-year-old Jaiden, a Colorado boy who was instructed to go home from school after he was told the “Don’t Tread on Me” patch on his backpack had its origins in slavery and racism. There was also a problem with a pro-Second Amendment patch that featured guns in the logo.


After Connor Boyack, a children’s book author, posted the video of the confrontation with school authorities berating young Jaiden, which the boy’s mother recorded, it went viral, and bipartisan nationwide outrage ensued.

After Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) objected, the Vanguard School that Jaiden attended relented. Jaiden was allowed to return to school and wear the Don’t Tread on Me” patch. But we now discover, via a posting by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), that the school informed Jaiden’s mother that he could wear the Gadsden Flag as long as no one else complained about it.

It’s called a “Heckler’s Veto,” and it’s still unconstitutional. But he still couldn’t wear the patch that references the Firearms Policy Coalition and expresses support for the Second Amendment.

The patch does not endorse unlawful activity or convey any threat, there is no evidence it has caused actual (or anticipated) substantial disruption of the school environment, nor is the mere fact that it depicts a firearm concrete evidence it will,” wrote FIRE’s Aaron Terr in a letter to the school district.


Under the policy, students cannot wear D.A.R.E. shirts or Everytown for Gun Safety pins,” wrote Terr. “The policy goes far beyond prohibiting expression that promotes illegal activity or that would substantially disrupt the school environment.”

FIRE made it clear in its letter that the attempts to stifle Jaiden’s rights because school administrators disagree with the politics behind the First and Second Amendments won’t be tolerated.

FIRE calls on the Vanguard School and Harrison School District Two to stop treading on Jaiden’s rights. That means allowing him to display on his backpack the Gadsden flag and Firearms Policy Coalition patches and any others that cause no substantial disruption, without facing punishment or removal from class — regardless of whether students or staff complain. FIRE also calls on the district to revise its dress code and eliminate the unconstitutional prohibition on all references to drugs, tobacco, alcohol, or weapons.

Students’ constitutional rights take precedence over the personal biases of school administrators. Too often, administrators seek to shut down speech they deem inappropriate when they should be encouraging students to speak their minds and grapple with a wide range of viewpoints and ideas.

Like Jaiden, all students should feel free to express themselves within the bounds of the law and without the looming threat of censorship.


The blatant arrogance of administrators shows why the First Amendment is so necessary. And their attempts to circumvent the Constitution show why the Second Amendment is necessary as well.


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