Joshua Bruner, a 15-year-old from Ringoes, New Jersey, is a lifetime NRA member and on two state shooting teams. He also served as a United States Sea Cadet. His mother, Darcy, says Joshua wants to follow in his great-grandfather’s footsteps and join the Marine Corps, according to this op-ed piece from Fox News.
Here’s the problem. Recently Josh got an assignment in his photography class at Hunterdon Central Regional High School to take a self-portrait representing self-expression, the story says.
In a field behind his house, Josh had a friend take a shot of him standing on an ATV holding an American flag in one hand and resting a Remington pump shotgun against his hip with the other. On his chest is a t-shirt featuring the continental Old Glory with the iconic silhouette of Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima.
Kids at the high school submit their work by uploading their assignment to the school’s Google site.
Josh’s portrait was rejected because the school says it violates their gun policy.
“The rules of our school prohibit students from using artwork depicting themselves or another person with any weapon,” the teacher wrote to Josh’s mom, who told Fox that she looked at the school policy and believes it was referring to actual guns on school property, not a photograph taken elsewhere.
“Josh was just showing pride for his country and who he is as a shooter and as a kid who wants to be in the Marines and protect his country and follow in his grandfather’s footsteps,” she said in the story. “He was not dressed inappropriately. He was not holding the gun incorrectly, and he was respecting the flag.”
The school agreed to grade Josh’s photo, but said it could not be uploaded to the school’s server and that it would not be publicly displayed, according to the story.
“We would like to recognize his work on the portrait but limit the possibility that the photo can be taken out of context,” the teacher wrote.
“They are crushing his spirit,” Darcy said in the story. “They are stifling his creativity.”
The author of the Fox piece, Todd Starnes, writes, “…They are in effect telling this child that he cannot take pride in who he is—his identity as an American.”
“If it is okay for people to show pride in their sexuality, why can’t my son show pride in his country?” Darcy said in the story. “I’m supposed to accept guys going into bathrooms with my daughters and girls going into bathrooms with my boys but they won’t accept my kid for just wanting to be a patriot.”