UPDATE: as this story continues to evolve, we will share the updates. See below for the latest…
Sophie, an 8th grade student at Clermont Northeastern Middle School in Owensville, Ohio, wore her FEMINIST t-shirt to school a few weeks ago. It also happened to be class photo day. Unbeknownst to the 13-year-old, her school principal (a woman) made a decision that is beyond belief and comprehension. Sophie’s mom Christine shares her story with Women You Should Know.
A couple of weeks ago Sophie wore a t-shirt to school that she had made that said “FEMINIST.” She wore the shirt all day without any issues. It also happened to be the day the 8th grade class pictures were taken.
On Monday, the pictures were handed out to the students and Sophie sees the photo and notices that the word FEMINIST had been blacked out on her shirt. Sophie went to the school principal, Mrs. Young, to find out why this happened. Mrs. Young said, “the photographer called me and brought it to my attention and I made the decision to black it out because some people might find it offensive.”
A friend of Sophie’s called me and I went to the school. Mrs. Young walked out and wouldn’t talk to me about what had happened. I have emailed her twice and she has yet to contact me at all.
Sophie was not violating dress code, she was not inappropriately dressed. Being a feminist is not a bad thing. She should be allowed to express herself.
She just wants everyone to be treated equally. That’s it. The end. She thinks everyone should be treated kindly and with love and that we should all have the same rights. Merriam Webster’s definition of feminism is the belief that men and women should have equal opportunities. Most people, especially in this area, seem to think feminism and misandry go hand and hand and that’s a common misconception. You can still love men and be a feminist. You can still be a homemaker and be a feminist. That’s where we are with this. We just want equality.
I am completely dumbfounded by the situation. I’m upset that the principal won’t speak to me or return my emails regarding the situation. I would think she would want our involvement. I’m just shocked by how the entire thing is being handled.
This Friday, April 17, 2015, Sophie is planning a protest and is asking students and adults to show their support by wearing your favorite FEMINIST T-shirt. Take a pic post the photo on social media using the hashtag ?#?ideservefreedomofexpression, if on Instagam you can tag Sophie.
**About the lead image: Sophie created the photo on the left to illustrate what her shirt originally looked like. Since the principal had the original photo altered it is not available to show. However, she sent us a this photo holding up the shirt she was wearing that day.
UPDATE: This just in from Christine (2:00pm – 4/15)
I actually had a meeting with Mrs. Young (the one who blacked out the shirt) today. She apologized to me profusely, of course, after the local news station called her this morning! She asked me if we were good? I told her she needed to apologize to Sophie and ask her that question. She seemed dumbfounded by that. So she called Sophie down to the office. She apologized to Sophie and asked “What do you want from this?” Sophie replied, “I want everyone to realize that we NEED feminism. I want you to have someone come into the school and educate everyone about feminism. I want us to go to the news station together and show the people that we are working together the make this school and our community and better place for everyone. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.” I was so proud of her. She never once said I want a public apology or anything like that. She just wants to give to others. She is such a great kid.
UPDATE 2: (4:00pm – 4/21) Last night, Sophie gave us the latest on the situation at school, her campaign, and who has emerged as the real “offensive” one… full update here