School Punishes teen for being nice to gays

Katherine - posted on 03/28/2011 ( 16 moms have responded )

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Here's something you don't hear every day. An eighth grade student was told she was"distracting" other students by being NICE to people who were different from her. Say what?

I remember eighth grade; with all those surging hormones, the school staff was bending over backward to encourage any time we were NICE to each other instead of biting someone's head off. But the folks at DeSoto Middle School decided Dawn Henderson's t-shirt declaring "Some Kids R (sic) Gay. That's OK." wasn't OK.

Instead, the school's principal told her she'd have to call her grandfather to bring in a new shirt to wear rather than continue on with the school day. In other words: it was more worth it to this school administrator to pull a kid out of class for the time it took her grandfather to find her a new shirt, drive it to school and for her to change, than it was for her to wear a shirt all day that said something nice about other kids.

The stories crop up all the time. Kid has opinion. Kid puts opinion on shirt and wears it to school. School throws a s--t fit because heaven forbid kids think for themselves. Kid has to take off shirt, turn it inside out, go home, blah, blah, blah. It doesn't really matter WHAT the shirt says -- the landmark case Tinker v. Des Moines determined our kids don't give up their 1st Amendment right to free speech when they walk through the door. All kids -- even the ones with ill-formed opinions -- deserve to have their say. Courts have upheld this again and again and again.

But what's so troubling about this case in Louisiana is the positive nature of Dawn Henderson's shirt. She wasn't starting a riot. She wasn't insulting anyone.

The shirt was made by FCKH8, a group that puts money toward queer youth counseling (they're now giving a 25 percent discount on merchandise with the codeword BANNED in Dawn's honor). The group's all about gay and "str8" standing together.

That's fairly middle of the road if anything -- as she said "some" kids are gay. Not all. Some. "And that's OK." In other words -- not everyone has to be, which is perfectly fine too.

We could almost start singing "Kumbaya" right now and just call it a day. And if I'm remembering middle school right, when kids are hitting puberty and experiencing those lovely symptoms like "unexplained mood swings, aggression, and depression," we could all use a little more "Kumbaya."

Do you think this principal was out of line?



Totally out of line. Since when does being supportive of something make you a distraction? What if it was a breast cancer T-shirt? Would the principal have made such a fuss?

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Johnny - posted on 03/28/2011

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There is no good reason for making her take off the shirt. Like Mary said, if she was in danger, she should have been protected, not punished. This just reeks of homophobia to me. If it was my kid, I'd freak.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 03/28/2011

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I am just proud to see such a young girl having great convictions. That puts a smile on my face. Not her fault the principle is a jerk..

Jessica - posted on 03/28/2011

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Totally freaking out of line. I'd be yanking my kid from that school so fast their heads would spin, lol. It just pisses me off because that is exactly the kind of thing my middle/high school would have done. Raised a huge stink about a kid having their own opinion and showing a little self expression. So fucking what? In my experience, schools spend way too much energy shutting students down and reinforcing stupid, MEANINGLESS rules than focusing on things that actually matter. Even in 8th grade I knew that wasn't how the "real world" worked. It makes me so mad a school would do this!

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I don't get it. We're suppose to be nice to everyone...whats the big deal? Maybe the principal has his own opposing views and let that cloud his judgment?

Stifler's - posted on 03/28/2011

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If other kids were making snide remarks and she cared wouldn't she have taken the shirt off on her own accord?

Lady Heather - posted on 03/28/2011

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I would hope that if kids were making snide remarks about her shirt that the principal would see this as an opportunity to EDUCATE the students rather than punish a kid for displaying a good message. Any school that would ban that is no school I'd ever want my kid to set foot in. If that's just how it is there, that's fucking sad. This would simply never fly where I come from. There'd probably be a student protest and letters from parents and buddy would be hauled before the school board. This kind of positive message is encouraged and not discouraged.

[deleted account]

I do not think what she did was wrong in any way.I do think i would of been afraid for her safety.In no way would i of made out she was wrong to support others for being gay.I would of told her if i the teacher that being supportive towards others is always right but not to put yourself in harms way and then i would of spoke to her of the possible dangers of wearing a shirt like she wore.If it were my daughter wanting to wear it i would of told her the same.We have a close family member who is gay.I support everybodys right to be who they are.I just think, they were right to be concerned but to punish her is wrong.

Bonnie - posted on 03/28/2011

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Personally I don't see the big deal, but perhaps she could be nice in a different way, maybe by just by trying to be friends with the gays and showing others that it is okay to be friends with them.

ME - posted on 03/28/2011

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I heard about this a few days ago...The ladies who pointed out that we may not have all of the details are correct. However, if the student was in danger, then it's those threatening her that should be punished, not her. If the school had a policy against slogans on shirts, then the shirt had to go, otherwise this is totally screwed up!

Mrs. - posted on 03/28/2011

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What's nice about the story is that it seems she walked in the environment not knowing anyone would see it was wrong. Unless, she's a shit disturber and wanted to cause a scene. If that's the case, she's got balls to do it in certain parts of Louisiana.

Here's where I agree with Danielle a bit. My side of the family lives in the deep south too. People forget that in certain areas saying that kind of stuff on a shirt can get you injured. If the principle thought the girl might be in physical danger because of the shirt - I can kind of see why he might have done it. Of course, if he did it because he thinks gay are gross or something - he's a ditch pig.

Stifler's - posted on 03/28/2011

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I think good on her for sticking up for gay kids. ESPECIALLY in a homophobic area.

Danielle - posted on 03/28/2011

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Do we know how the kids around her were reacting to the shirt?
I don't think he was out of line IF he did it to prevent a potiental problem. Here in the south ppl are still VERY homophobic. There seem to be more ppl against it than supportive to it. Even in my household. Let me bring up one of my gay friends (especially if it's a man) and my husband actually shudders. Now if it offended the principal then of course he was in the wrong but if he did it b/c ppl were complaining or making snide comments to or about her then he did nothing wrong. I do think it's a little over the top by making her call her grandfather though. Just turn it inside out.

Nikki - posted on 03/28/2011

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Out of line, unless the have a dress code which states no slogans on t shirts. But really he is obviously just homophobic.

Tracey - posted on 03/28/2011

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Why didn't the principal just make her turn it inside out so the words couldn't be seen, would have saved a lot of time and effort.

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