School Punishes Teen for Being Nice to Gays

Jeanne Sager

Some Kids R Gay. That's OKHere's something you don't hear every day. An eighth grade student was told she was"distracting" other students by being NICE to people who were different from her. Say what?

I remember eighth grade; with all those surging hormones, the school staff was bending over backward to encourage any time we were NICE to each other instead of biting someone's head off. But the folks at DeSoto Middle School decided Dawn Henderson's t-shirt declaring "Some Kids R (sic) Gay. That's OK." wasn't OK.

Instead, the school's principal told her she'd have to call her grandfather to bring in a new shirt to wear rather than continue on with the school day. In other words: it was more worth it to this school administrator to pull a kid out of class for the time it took her grandfather to find her a new shirt, drive it to school and for her to change, than it was for her to wear a shirt all day that said something nice about other kids.

The stories crop up all the time. Kid has opinion. Kid puts opinion on shirt and wears it to school. School throws a s--t fit because heaven forbid kids think for themselves. Kid has to take off shirt, turn it inside out, go home, blah, blah, blah. It doesn't really matter WHAT the shirt says -- the landmark case Tinker v. Des Moines determined our kids don't give up their 1st Amendment right to free speech when they walk through the door. All kids -- even the ones with ill-formed opinions -- deserve to have their say. Courts have upheld this again and again and again.

But what's so troubling about this case in Louisiana is the positive nature of Dawn Henderson's shirt. She wasn't starting a riot. She wasn't insulting anyone.

The shirt was made by FCKH8, a group that puts money toward queer youth counseling (they're now giving a 25 percent discount on merchandise with the codeword BANNED in Dawn's honor). The group's all about gay and "str8" standing together.

That's fairly middle of the road if anything -- as she said "some" kids are gay. Not all. Some. "And that's OK." In other words -- not everyone has to be, which is perfectly fine too.

We could almost start singing "Kumbaya" right now and just call it a day. And if I'm remembering middle school right, when kids are hitting puberty and experiencing those lovely symptoms like "unexplained mood swings, aggression, and depression," we could all use a little more "Kumbaya."

Do you think this principal was out of line?


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