Two boys suspended from school over BLM shirts

·3 min read
<p>Two young boys were removed from their classroom after they chose to wear a t-shirt stating ‘Black Lives Matter’ after they were inspired by events on the news</p> (Getty Images)

Two young boys were removed from their classroom after they chose to wear a t-shirt stating ‘Black Lives Matter’ after they were inspired by events on the news

(Getty Images)

Two boys from Oklahoma were taken out of school for wearing t-shirts that read “Black Lives Matter”.

Bentlee Herbert, 8 and Rodney Herbert, 5, were made to leave their classrooms and wait outside the front office last week for their choice of shirts.

Their mother Jordan Herbert was informed by the superintendent of the Ardmore school district that politics would “not be allowed at school”, according to The New York Times.

Opponents of the school dress code policy include the American Civil Liberty Union, who described the incident as an infringement on the boys’ free speech.

Ms Herbert said their ejection from the classroom took place on 30 April when Bentlee, a third-grader at Charles Evans Elementary School, opted to wear a Black Lives Matter t-shirt of his own volition. She later learnt that Bentlee had been told by Denise Brunk, the school’s principal, he was not permitted to wear the garment. He was told to wear the shirt inside out, a move he obliged.

When Ms Herbert asked Ms Brunk what rule his shirt has broken, she was directed to Kim Holland, the district’s superintendent.

“He told me when the George Floyd case blew up that politics will not be allowed at school,” Ms Herbert said, who defended the shirt as not being political.

Neither Ms Brunk nor Mr Holland responded to The New York Times’ requests for comment.

Later in the week, Ms Herbert’s three sons, Bentlee, Rodney and Jaelon, 12, went into school wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirt with a fist. All three children are Black. She was later informed that Rodney and Bentlee were both excluded from lessons and breaks with their friends because of their clothing.

Jaelon, who goes to Ardmore Middle School, faced no problems regarding his t-shirt, according to Ms Herbert.

Speaking to the local paper The Daily Ardomoreite, Mr Holland implied the shirts were a “disturbance”.

“It’s our interpretation of not creating a disturbance in school,” he said to the newspaper. “I don’t want kids wearing a MAGA hats or Trump shirts to school either because it just creates, in this emotionally charged environment, anxiety and issues that I don’t want our kids to deal with.”

He said there had been other similar events in the district recently.

“Most it has not been an issue until this lady here has been angry about it,” Mr Holland continued. “I wish she weren’t so upset.”

Mr Holland had discussed the incident with Ms Herberr, who asked what would happen if her sons come into school dressed in those shirts again.

“He told me nothing could be done because it wasn’t against policy,” Ms Herbert said.

The school’s handbook states nothing about political messaging on clothing, instead, it reads “sayings or logos” on clothing “should be in good taste and school appropriate.”

Ms Herbert said that the notion her sons should not “be able to express his life matters” was outrageous.

The boys, according to their mother, experienced backlash from their classmates over their shirts.

“One boy told him that his life does not matter, and the other one told him just to get suspended,” Mrs Herbert said about her son Bentlee.

Ms Brunk said this incident would be investigated, according to Ms Herbert.

“With everything going on in the world today, I keep my boys informed,” saying they watched the news together. “They know what's going on.”

The mom said she would continue to push for her sons to wear their t-shirts, even if they were not trying to be an “attention-seeking ordeal”.

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