Ali Chaney is a 13-year-old junior high school student from Copperas Cove, Texas. Ali, who is gay, was excited to wear her new shirt to school on Monday, which read in rainbow letters.
“Some people are gay get over it.“
Ali really didn’t expect the shirt to cause any type of negative response from students and in fact, friends and schoolmates complimented her on the shirt. But 5 minutes after her science class that morning, she was called into the office and the principal plus two vice principals told Ali she needed to change her shirt because it was a “distraction.” One of the vice principals told Ali he,
“…didn’t want that in his school.
It wasn’t really a distraction, I was only in the school for 10 minutes and I had already gotten compliments.“
They didn’t let her return to class wearing the shirt and told her to call her mother for another shirt. Cassie Watson, Ali’s mother, told BuzzFeed News that her daughter was hysterical on the phone over the whole situation. She rushed over to the school with a shirt from her workplace at a dental clinic for Ali to wear. Watson was surprised by the school’s response to the shirt,
“I know that there are multiple gay kids that go to school with Ali. I didn’t think they’d take a message on a shirt that strong against Ali when they have so many kids who are LGBT already.”
Ali was so upset that her Mom ended up taking her home for the rest of the school day. Ali said about the vice principal’s comments,
“I didn’t understand what he meant by ‘that’. I didn’t know if he meant the shirt or openly admitting that you’re gay. I just didn’t think there’d be a problem. It just felt like I was being discriminated against.”
A district Spokeswoman Wendy Sledd told KCEN, multiple students were distracted by the shirt,
“Our purpose at CCISD is to educate children, first and foremost. According to CCISD’s dress code in the student handbook and code of conduct, clothing that is disruptive to the learning environment based on reactions by other students is prohibited. The student was offered a school shirt to wear and declined.”
But Watson isn’t convinced by the school’s reasoning. She said she filed a grievance with the school and is scheduled to meet with the principal today,
“I believe that the administration has an issue with the message because her teachers and her peers were complimenting her. So it’s hard for me to believe the school’s story that multiple kids were distracted.”
Ali said that she would consider the situation resolved if the school would be more accepting and supportive of the LGBT community, by
“letting people be openly out and not saying something about what they wear.
“If it’s bad then they shouldn’t be allowed to wear it. But if it’s just a simple saying on it then they shouldn’t get in trouble like I did.”
The episode is ironic considering the message of the shirt. Seems like everyone is learning some valuable lessons at school –the hard way.