A girl wearing a shirt that prompted teachers to tell her to cover it up because it contained an “offensive message” received support from her family, ultimately leading to an apology by administrators.
Emery Smith, a seventh-grade student at Fort Bragg’s Albritton Middle School in North Carolina, donned the shirt on a recent school day.
The black shirt is emblazoned with five lines of white text that reads, “Why be racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic when you could just be quiet?”
Singer Frank Ocean wore a similar shirt at a 2017 music festival.
Some teachers found the message on the shirt “offensive” and asked Emery to cover up the text, her mother Katie Moore Smith wrote on Facebook. The school called her father, a soldier at Fort Bragg, to inform him of the situation.
Smith said she later went to the school to speak with administrators including the assistant principal.
“He was not entirely forthcoming and was clearly trying to watch his words,” Smith wrote on Facebook. “He did say that he personally did not find the shirt offensive, and he alluded to the problem being with the phobias.”
Smith said that Emery was trying to support people who identify with the “marginalized categories” listed on the shirt. Smith removed Emery from the school for the rest of the day and threatened to take her out of the class of the teacher who originally reported the shirt for good.
“I don’t think any of us really imagined adults would take issue with the shirt suggesting that discrimination is not OK,” Smith told WTVD. “I told the staff that the shirt represented categories of children who are marginalized. In a time we are trying to combat bullying, I think it’s so counterproductive to that.”
A number of Facebook users responding to pictures that Smith posted showing Emery wearing the shirt and her father wearing his fatigues expressed support for the girl.
*** 4th Edit: Again, thank you for the support! This last week has been an interesting learning experience for our…
Public Affairs Officer Jade Fulce with the Department of Defense Education Activity told the broadcaster that an apology was issued to the family on the same day that Emery was told to cover up the shirt.
“Students are at the heart of everything we do. After further review of our dress code policies, we realized that the shirt did not violate our policies,” Fulce said. “The school reached out to the parents and apologized that same day.”
Smith said in an update that the school’s principal was corresponding with her directly on the matter.
Cumberland County student asked to ‘cover up’ after teachers found shirt offensivehttps://t.co/U3gwOStxqV
— ABC11 EyewitnessNews (@ABC11_WTVD) February 14, 2019
“We really do not think this problem is unique to her school. The Principal has taken accountability directly with me,” she wrote. “I personally would love for Emery to see first hand what accountability looks like when adults admit their wrongdoing, apologize, and start making changes to show they mean what they say.”
She also said that Emery “just expressed a few weeks ago that she wished she could get more actively involved in social change and out of nowhere this situation has given her an opportunity.”
“When she realized that this exposure could lead to helping educate other children and families and maybe even some kind of reform within the educational system, her eyes lit up at that opportunity! I’m thrilled that I get to be on this journey with her,” Smith added.
From NTD News