BuzzFeed News

Reporting To You

This 13-Year-Old Girl Was Told Her T-Shirt Was Too "Distracting" For School

"It just felt like I was being discriminated against."

Posted on May 27, 2016, at 1:52 p.m. ET

Ali Chaney, a 13-year-old junior high school student in Copperas Cove, Texas, bought a simple T-shirt with the $10 she earned last weekend for babysitting, she told BuzzFeed News.

(Left) Ali Chaney
Cassie Watson

(Left) Ali Chaney

Ali, who is gay, was excited to wear her new shirt, which read in rainbow letters "Some people are gay get over it," to school on Monday.

Cassie Watson

Ali didn't expect the shirt to cause any type of negative response from students.

Friends and other schoolmates complimented her on the shirt as they gathered in the cafeteria before class, she said.

But about five minutes after her science class began that morning, Ali was called into the administrative office at her school, SC Lee Junior High.

Cassie Watson

The school's principal and 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," she said.

"It wasn't really a distraction, I was only in the school for 10 minutes and I had already gotten compliments," she said.

The administrators 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 to the school with a dentist's shirt from her workplace at a dental clinic for Ali to wear.

Cassie Watson

Watson said she was "surprised" by the school's response to the T-shirt.

"I know that there are multiple gay kids that go to school with Ali," she said. "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 Watson ended up taking her home for the rest of the school day.

"I didn't understand what he meant by 'that,'" Ali said about the vice principal's comments. "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."

Watson shared the photo and Ali's experience in a Facebook post on Monday that has since been shared over 2,600 times.

Cassie Watson / Via facebook.com

She described it as "a heart breaking eye opener for my daughter."

Copperas Cove Independent School District did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment. But District Spokeswoman Wendy Sledd told KCEN multiple students were distracted by the shirt.

Google Maps / Via google.com!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s6vIHu6OPkUxpxt1_vCvSRg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1

"Our purpose at CCISD is to educate children, first and foremost," Sledd said in a statement to KCEN. "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 is not convinced by the school's reasoning. She said she filed a grievance with the school and is scheduled to meet with the principal on Tuesday.

Cassie Watson

"I believe that the administration has an issue with the message because her teachers and her peers were complimenting her," said Watson. "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.

Cassie Watson

The school, she said, can do that 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," she added. "But if it's just a simple saying on it then they shouldn't get in trouble like I did."

Support our journalism

Help BuzzFeed News reporters expose injustices and keep quality news free.

Contribute
ADVERTISEMENT