While senior portraits are traditionally a way for students to show off their favorite hobby, one yearbook photo is causing controversy at a North Dakota high school.
For his photo, Josh Renville submitted a shot of himself holding an assault-style rifle, but Fargo North High School banned the photo from their yearbook. Even though the 17-year-old student is an avid hunter and prides himself on his patriotism, his school principal, Andy Dahlen, said the portrait is in violation of school policy.
"I think America is the greatest country in the world, and I'm a pretty patriotic guy, so I'd like to show that in the picture and I love the second amendment and I think rifles and guns are a big hobby of mine, so I wanted to express that," Josh said.
According to Dahlen, there are three weapons-related policies that the photo violates, including one that prohibits any material in school-sponsored media that violates federal or state law or promotes violence. He also explained that the school does not allow guns on its property and does not let students wear clothing that depicts guns, weapons, drugs, alcohol, or any violence.
"Whether or not I agree or disagree with it is really immaterial. I'm just following the policy," Dahlen said.
Josh's father, a member of the Air National Guard for 30 years, believes that his son's photo shows support for the country — not violence — and plans to fight the school's decision. Charlie Renville shared on Facebook his feelings that his son's principal is banning the photo due to his own personal beliefs.
"What item is illegal in this picture? I see a kid that loves his nation, loves free speech and loves the second the 2nd Amendment," Charlie wrote. "The rifle is a rifle he built and it is his favorite rifle. Dahlen just doesn't like rifles, he doesn't believe in or support the second Amendment. He is a far left progressive who is using his position to promote his political agenda and push it on our children."