WCSD changes dress code, pro-gun clothing no longer banned


Story image for Clothing from Reno Gazette Journal

The Washoe County School District notified parents on Thursday that it was revising its dress code policy, removing a ban on clothing that “promotes weapons,” among other changes.

The change comes after an eighth-grade student at Depoali Middle School filed a federal lawsuit after he was twice told to remove or cover his pro-gun clothing because it was in violation of the district’s dress code.

The student, who is unnamed in the lawsuit but is represented by his parents, Audrey and Shaun Guardanapo, claims that the district’s dress code policy violates his First Amendment rights.

Audrey Guardanapo is a local police dispatcher and Shaun Guardanapo is a former law enforcement officer and U.S. Marine veteran, according to a late-April press release announcing the lawsuit.

Brandon Combs, president of the Firearms Policy Coalition, a non-profit Second Amendment group backing the lawsuit, said attorneys representing both parties have met and discussed ways to bring the lawsuit to an amicable end.

“Our understanding is they are working to change their policies … that weapons apparel is no longer a banned item,” Combs said.

Combs added that the dress code policy change is “absolutely a result” of the lawsuit, but the school district did not confirm the two were connected.

A statement from the school district to the Reno Gazette Journal on Friday said that the information regarding the policy change was communicated to parents to reaffirm the position of the Washoe County School District given recent issues surrounding this topic, and to “ensure consistency in the Student Handbook.”

The lawsuit is still ongoing, according to Combs, but he said the district’s change to its dress code policy is a step toward bringing it to an end.

The Firearms Policy Coalition actively encourages students to use the First Amendment as a means to protect their Second Amendment rights. Just days before filing the lawsuit the organization launched a website and accompanying guide laying out ways students can use the First Amendment to counteract nationally organized student walkouts calling for stricter gun control legislation.

The student was disciplined twice for wearing two different pro-gun T-shirts to school.

He was first disciplined on Nov. 20, 2017, for wearing a shirt from a local gun store, Sparks Black Rifle. That shirt depicted the store’s logo, which according to images included in the lawsuit, used silhouettes of a rifle and a handgun.

He was again disciplined on March 12 for wearing a shirt promoting the Firearms Policy Coalition. That shirt features the words “Don’t Tread On Me” and a coiled snake, reminiscent of the Gadsden flag, and other references to the Second Amendment and other “constitutional themes.”

When the student’s teacher instructed him to cover the shirt, he responded by telling the teacher that he was free to express himself through his clothing choices. The teacher responded, according to the lawsuit, by saying he could have his “Second Amendment rights when he turns 18.”