An 8-year-old Black boy was punished by his Oklahoma elementary school for wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt to school.
The child, Ben Stapleton, told local news outlet KXII that the school’s principal told him to turn the shirt inside out during gym class when he first wore it last week. When the 8-year-old wore it to school again, he was pulled out of class and forced to sit in the principal’s office for several hours. The child’s mother, Jordan Herbert, described the incident as “modern-day segregation.”
“They pulled me out of P.E. and told me to put my shirt inside out and then I started playing,” Ben recalled.
Herbert contacted the school Ardmore Superintendent Kim Holland on Monday (May 3), who told Herbert that students wouldn’t get disciplined for wearing Black Lives Matter shirts to school, The Hill reported.
Herbert said given how young her child is, it should’ve been clear that he “knows nothing about politics or his rights, so y’all make him turn it inside out because you don’t like it.”
The next day, the mom sent all three of her children to school wearing Black Lives Matter shirts on.
Two of her sons, Ben and his 5-year-old brother, were pulled out of class, and made to sit in the principal’s office for most of the day. The kids, Herbert said, missed recess and lunch with their friends, and Ben missed a weekly tutoring session.
Herbert told McClatchy News that Ben was forced to look at a wall in the school office for six hours. “They say no disciplinary action was taken, but making them sit in the office missing everything was modern day segregation,” she said.
Holland said in an interview with KXII that kids getting pulled out of class activities was because they broke the school dress code for wearing political clothing.
“I understand what she is saying, but school is not the place to have all that, y’know political back and forth and upheaval. We’re trying to teach our kids things like reading and writing.” Holland said it’s normal for students who allegedly break dress code to sit in the principal’s office. “We’re trying to be more neutral in school and be advocates for all our children in what they need,” Holland said.
Students and supporters protested outside the school with Ben on Wednesday (May 5). “Education! Not Discrimination!” a sign that Ben held said.
Herbert says she wants school officials to “allow my kid to express how his life matters, that’s it, that’s all.”
Photo: Getty Images