Middle School Apologizes to Soldier’s Daughter Who Was Asked to Cover up “Offensive” Shirt
A seventh-grade student wearing a T-shirt that prompted teachers to tell her to cover it up because it contained an “offensive message” – but was actually intended to oppose discrimination – received support from her family, ultimately leading to an apology by administrators.
On Friday, seventh-grader Emery, who attends Fort Bragg’s Albritton Middle School, was asked to cover up her favorite shirt – which reads, “Why be racist, sexist, homophobic or transphobic when you could just be quiet?” — because some of the teachers found it to be “offensive,” Emery’s mother, Katie Moore Smith, wrote on Facebook last week.
The woman was shocked to get the call from the school after a “dress down” day to hear that her daughter’s teachers were confused by the message Emery’s shirt contained.
Frank Ocean famously wore a shirt of similar design at the 2017 Panorama Music Festival.
The school also called Emery’s father, a Fort Bragg soldier, to inform him of the situation. Katie later arrived at school to speak with administrators, including the school’s 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.
“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.”
Smith then took Emery out of class 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.
Smith’s Facebook post – which included a photo of Emery and her father – has since been flooded with supportive comments.
“I love that shirt. I want one! Stay strong Emery, the world needs more people like you,” wrote one Facebook user.
“Congratulations Emery on your academic achievement award!! I support the statement on your shirt as well,” another said.
An official with the department that runs the school, too, released a statement confirming that it had reached out to the family to apologize for the incident, as the shirt did not violate any of the dress codes.
“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,” Jade Fulce said. “After further review of our dress code policies, we realized that the shirt did not violate our policies. The school reached out to the parents and apologized that same day.”
Smith said in an update that the incident could serve as a valuable learning experience for her daughter.
“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 wrote.
“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.”
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.”