At least two students from a middle school in McKinley, TX were sent home yesterday for wearing T-shirts that said “Gay O.K.” Others were told to turn their shirts inside out or risk being disciplined.
“Being gay is OK,” Anna Thompson, who was one the students who wore shirts, told her local news station. “And it is OK to be open about it.”
The students were wearing the shirts in support of another classmate who had recently come out and, as a result, was being bullied.
Thompson says almost as soon as she walked in the school doors, a teacher approached her.
“[He] came up to me and said that he doesn’t believe this message is school appropriate,” she recounted.
Other students said problems arose at lunchtime, when they were in the school cafeteria.
“We were doing perfectly fine until lunch,” said Sammy Heiman, the seventh grader who designed the shirts. “And then [the administration] called us all out, all the people wearing them, called us out of the cafeteria. And people started getting rowdy because they knew what was going on. They were making us take off the shirts.”
Cody Cunningham, spokesman for the McKinney Independent School District, claims the students were causing “a verbal disruption,” saying they were not acting “civil,” and that’s why they were disciplined.
“While we respect student free speech, our primary obligation is to ensure a safe and productive learning environment for students,” he said.
Cunningham added that the T-shirts violated the school’s dress code for being “disruptive or distractive” and “adversely [impacting] the educational process.”
Evidently spreading a message of tolerance and support is not considered “educational.”
Kristy Heiman, a mother of one of the girls wearing the shirts, said she supports what the middle schoolers did.
“I’m just so proud of them,” she said. “I just want everybody to know that it just takes one person. This was just supposed to be a nice, quiet five or six kids wearing something. And it turned into something much bigger.”