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DHS student sent home for wearing hunting sweater

Officials change decision, say he can wear it going forward

Dixon High School junior Clinton Boyer holds up the hunting-themed hooded sweatshirt he wore to school, for which he was sent home.
Dixon High School junior Clinton Boyer holds up the hunting-themed hooded sweatshirt he wore to school, for which he was sent home.

Editor's note: This story originally referred to the weapon on the sweatshirt as a shotgun. It has been updated to show that it is a rifle.

DIXON – Dixon High School junior Clinton Boyer was in need of a sweatshirt, so he asked his dad, Derrick, for an extra one.

Derrick Boyer, 43, gave his son a mustard-colored sweater that reads "I'll stop hunting when they pry the gun from my cold dead hands." The sweater has a picture of a rifle, along with other hunting equipment.

Boyer and his dad might have thought the sweater was OK, but it didn't sit well with school officials Monday.

When Boyer, 17, arrived at school that morning, the sweater caught the attention of Lisa Guenther, one of his teachers, who sent Boyer to the Principal Michael Grady's office. Grady has the final say on enforcement of the district's dress code.

"They told me if I don't take the sweater off or turn it inside out, I would be sent home," Boyer said. "I refused to take it off, because it wasn't against the rules. I could have went home, changed the sweater and came back, but I was so mad, I knew I wasn't coming back."

Grady declined to comment on the matter.

"I cannot discuss student discipline," he said.

Superintendent Margo Empen also declined comment.

"I obviously cannot and will not discuss specific students or incidents," she said.

According to the DHS student handbook, student dress may not display lewd, vulgar, obscene or offensive language or symbols.

The handbook also says students may not advertise or promote violent behavior.

"The rule book does not state anything about a picture of a gun," Derrick Boyer said.

Boyer said he did not wear the sweater Tuesday, and he had a normal day. But on Wednesday, he said school officials had a change of heart.

"I came to school Wednesday and they told me I could wear the sweater, after all," said Clinton Boyer, who plans to join the Army Reserves after high school. "They told me it's not against the rules and I could wear it."

Boyer and his father are avid hunters. They've hunted together since Boyer was 7.

In fact, Derrick has the same sweater in orange, too. He said the sweaters were bought at Walmart.

"He was raised in a house that hunts," Derrick Boyer said. "It's a father-son thing we have been doing forever."

Derrick told school officials he would have made calls to different establishments and foundations, if his son was not allowed to wear the sweater.

"I'm a big advocate of Second Amendment rights and hunting rights," he said. "I felt they were violating his rights. I would have contacted the National Rifle Association or the Illinois State Rifle Association."

Derrick said he's glad his son can continue wearing the sweater to school. He also believes school officials overreacted.

"I understand the whole violence at schools and how it needs to be addressed, but this has nothing to do with gun violence," Derrick said. "Hunting is a sport, just like any other sport. That's how it needs to be taken, not that he is bringing a gun to school."

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