Teenager sent home from school for wearing t-shirt telling homophobes to ‘be quiet’
A 13-year-old girl was sent home from a South Indiana school this week for wearing an anti-discrimination t-shirt.
It read: “Why be racist, sexist, homophobic or transphobic when you could just be quiet?”
Parents of Renee Williams have demanded an apology from Highland Hills Middle School, according to local news outlet WTHR11.
The teen was told to take the t-shirt off to prevent ‘white supremacists wearing swastikas’, school staff said.
“She has four moms. She does have people in her life that are black, she has people in her life that are Hispanic, and she has people in her life that are trans,” Williams’ stepmother explained.
“Of course she is a growing girl herself so she’s going to learn all about sexism.”
According to Williams’ stepmother, a teacher reprimanded her for wearing the tee and brought her to the principal’s office.
Many of her fellow 8th grade classmates walked-out in solidarity with Williams.
The principal, Wendy Ivey, gave the student three options. She could take off the tee, cover it up or wear it inside out.
Williams opted to wear a sweater to cover it up. But her parents said she quickly overheated and had to take it off.
Another teacher gave her permission to do this as it did not violate the school dress code.
“The principal confronted her during the 8th grade lunch in front of all of the 8th graders and told her that she cannot wear her sexuality on her shirt,” Williams’ stepmother said.
“Our daughter chose to come home with us.”
She added: “If we’re going to go off a dress code that pretty much depends on one person’s opinion, then why have a dress code at all?”
Teen’s t-shirt was a “potential distraction”.
As a result, the 13-year-old’s parents reached out to a school board member.
“[The board member] said that if we let [our daughter] wear her shirt to school, then what’s to keep us from having white supremacists come in wearing swastikas on their shirts,” Williams said.
Williams, while proud of her daughter, demanded an apology from the school board.
“The only teacher who made it disruptive was the teacher who pulled her into the office for it,” Williams said.
Furthermore, the school’s handbook (2019-2020) lists that “students’ dress and appearance should be respectful and not interfere with the learning environment”.
If a student is caught wearing “inappropriate attire” their parent(s) or guardian(s) are notified. They also receive a lunchtime or after-school detention.
Assistant to the superintendent at New Albany Floyd County Schools, Bill Briscoe, told WHAS11: “As a school district, we do all we can to maintain the integrity of a focused age-appropriate learning environment.
“This includes minimising potential distractions as they arise.”
This is not the only time a teen was made to take-off a slogan t-shirt. Last week, several students from Martin County High School in Kentucky were forced to change clothes after wearing pro-LGBT+ t-shirts to school to support the queer community.
Moreover, an Alabama student was left out of her senior yearbook for wearing a tuxedo instead of a dress.