Teen's Trump T-shirt censored in yearbook photo

WALL - Grant Berardo couldn't vote for Donald Trump last year, but the Wall Township High School junior certainly could wear a T-shirt with his name on it.

Or so he thought.

With his parents' permission, Grant took his school pictures wearing a navy blue Trump campaign shirt emblazoned with the slogan "Make America Great Again."

But when Grant, 17, flipped to the yearbook page with his picture, he was shocked: Instead of the campaign shirt he wore that day, he was shown in a nondescript black T-shirt.


“It was Photoshopped” to remove the Trump message, Grant said in an interview.

“I sent it to my mom and dad, just like ‘You won’t believe this.’ I was just overall disappointed," he said. "I like Trump, but it’s history too. Wearing that shirt memorializes the time."

Wall Schools Superintendent Cheryl Dyer said Friday she was investigating why it happened and who was responsible, but did not condone the digital alteration.

“I am quite disturbed by the entire situation,” she said, declining to comment further.

A spokesman for Jostens, the company that takes the photographs and prints the yearbooks, did not respond to requests for comment.

It's not immediately clear whether the change was made by someone from the school district or photography company.

The only reason a student's image would be altered is if it was in violation of the dress code — clothing referencing drugs, alcohol or violence, Dyer said.

“Political shirts are absolutely not a violation of the dress code" and there's no policy prohibiting political messages in school pictures, she added.

In an interview, Joseph Berardo Jr. — Grant's father — called for the school to recall the yearbooks and reissue new ones with the unaltered photo. He said he would consider legal action if that doesn’t happen.

“From my perspective, I don’t understand the censorship,” Berardo said. “I think it was probably politically motivated. It was inherently offensive to somebody and they made a decision to Photoshop it – and without discussion, which is the worst part."

Berardo voted for Trump but called himself a “late arrival.” While he’s critical of Trump’s communication skills, Berardo said he supports the president’s overall policies – especially cutting business regulations.

“Does he communicate like a sophomore? Yeah. It’s frustrating and it makes it more difficult to support him,” Berardo said. “But generally speaking, I like what he’s trying to do.”

Grant, the student, is too young to vote. But he started following the election because of Trump, who he says “went out of his way because he cares for the American people.

“He’s a billionaire. He’s famous and really didn’t need to do this,” he said.

The problem would be "equally" as egregious if images of clothing supporting Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton also had been altered, Berardo said.

“What are you doing? Don’t you go to school to debate this stuff – at the collegiate level, at the high school level,” asked Berardo. “What’s frustrating to me is that this was the first election he took interest in, but what message did the school send?”

Ashbury Park Press


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