The issue of a kid wearing a questionable T-shirt to school has been one teachers and parents have been grappling with for years. But a recent case has people feeling particularly emotional -- and maybe even a bit torn. FOX News (of course) is reporting that a father named Daniel McIntyre says his son was told by teacher Karen Deverell during reading class at his middle school on Monday that his shirt violated the dress code, because it shows two interlocking guns. He was then asked to wear the tee inside out or face possible suspension. The clincher: It was a Marines T-shirt.
McIntyre explained to FOX, "My son is very proud of the Marines and, in fact, of all the services. So he wears it with pride. There are two rifles crossed underneath the word ‘Marines’ on the shirt, but to me that should be overlooked. It’s more about the Marines instead of the rifles.” I've gotta say ... I agree with him.
In the wake of a tragedy like Sandy Hook, a kid walking around school with interlocking guns blazed on his clothing probably isn't the most tasteful fashion statement. That said, should the teacher really have made an issue of it? I don't think so. It's a slippery slope from banning something like that. We can't start micromanaging every single image that's potentially offensive or insensitive given a current event.
What's more, as the boy's father pointed out, context matters. This wasn't a T-shirt sporting guns for guns' sake. This wasn't the kind of T-shirt that promotes "violent behavior." If it promotes anything, it's supporting and perhaps even joining up with the Marines. And whether we like it or not, weapons are an integral part of our military.
In the end, it sounds like the school realized this wasn't a battle they should be fighting. As noted by a statement from the school:
The administration and school handbook agree that this shirt is not a violation of the dress code. We also take school safety very earnestly and it needs to be recognized that is a topic that we also take very seriously and support our students and staff in providing a safe environment to learn, teach, and work in on a daily basis.
Fair enough. And those are two goals that are going to have to be delicately balanced as we go forward -- because we shouldn't be doing anything that compromises either self-expression or safety in schools.
How do you feel about this boy's Marines T-shirt being worn in school?