Two elementary schools in Oklahoma are claiming that “Black Lives Matter” is a political statement, and therefore, against their dress code.
The New York Times reports that two Black boys were removed from their classrooms at Charles Elementary and Will Rogers Elementary in Ardmore, Okla., after being sent to school by their mother, Jordan Herbert, last Tuesday (May 4) wearing matching Black Lives Matter tees.
Herbert told the newspaper her sons, Bentlee, 8, and Rodney Herbert, 5, were taken out of their classrooms because the shirts violated a political expression dress code rule the schools have. Herbert claims, however, that she had previously spoken to Kim Holland, superintendent of the Ardmore School District, regarding the shirts when the principal of Bentlee’s school had told her to speak to him regarding the school’s dress code.
“He told me when the George Floyd case blew up that politics will not be allowed at school,” Herbert said on Friday, referring to Holland. “I told him, once again, a ‘Black Lives Matter’ T-shirt is not politics.”
Additionally, during an interview with the Daily Ardmoreite, Holland said, “It’s our interpretation of not creating a disturbance in school,” then subsequently implying that Donald Trump’s presidency is the opposite of the slogan Black Lives Matter.
“I don’t want my kids wearing 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,” Holland said. “Most of it has not been an issue until this lady here has been angry about it. I wish she weren’t so upset.”
According to the dress code outlined in the district’s Elementary Student Handbook, there is no mention of politics, only “sayings or logos” on shirts or tops that “should be in good taste and school appropriate.”
According to the Times, the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma argues that banning the shirts is a violation of the boys’ First Amendment rights.
In a letter obtained by the newspaper, if the school district does not reverse its policy and allow students to wear “Black Lives Matter” clothing, it must be prepared to prove in federal court how wearing the garments create “a substantial disruption of or material interference with school activities,” the ACLU said. “Anything less than that would be found to be a violation of the students’ First Amendment rights.”
Despite the spotlight this has brought on herself, her sons and the school district, Herbert says it wasn’t her intention to be disruptive and create an “attention-seeking ordeal.”
“I don’t see Black Lives Matter disrupting anything,” Herbert said to the Times.