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School Censors ‘Offensive’ F-Word On Girl’s T-Shirt In Class Photo: ‘Feminist’

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When she received her copy of her class photo, Sophie, an eighth-grader at Clermont Northeastern Middle School in Ohio, was surprised by what she saw. The shirt she’d chosen to wear on school picture day–a black shirt with the word “FEMINIST” emblazoned on it in big white letters–had been carefully erased by the touch of Photoshop and reduced to an ordinary black t-shirt instead, as ThinkProgress reports. If you’re already thinking, “WTF?”, stay tuned–it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Sophie’s shirt didn’t break any dress code rules, and it’s one she’s worn to school multiple times before, so naturally an explanation was wanting for why it had suddenly transformed into an unacceptable wardrobe choice at picture time. Gird your loins and take your blood pressure pills: when Sophie asked the school principal, Kendra Young, why her shirt had been digitally altered for the picture, Young responded:

“[T]he 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.”

Go back and read that again. Take a deep breath. Lie down, under a tree if possible, and think about birds or soft puppies. Yes, two adult human beings in the Year of our Lord 20-freaking-15 both decided that the word ‘feminist’ was too indecent to print.

Sophie published a recreation of her t-shirt on her Instagram, which she jury-rigged with a little Photoshop of her own, since she didn’t have access to an unaltered version of the class photo.

Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 6.17.02 AM(Instagram)

Originally Young refused to meet with Sophie’s mother Christine (and reportedly walked out when Christine arrived at the school to discuss the situation). But Christine told Women You Should Know that Young called her to apologize after the local news media picked up the story, and that she has since apologized to Sophie too, and offered to provide an unaltered copy of the picture for her. It sounds as if Sophie accepted the apology, but this is still embarrassingly too little, too late for a school official in this day and age.

‘Feminist’ needs to stop being treated like a dirty word that could cause offense–to whom? God forbid we offend people who don’t think women are human. There are plenty of people who don’t identify as feminists for valid reasons (the movement’s centering around straight, white, middle class, cisgender women, for example), but they’re not the ones demanding we shut down the conversation on gender justice–it’s the people who don’t want to upset the status quo apple cart; or who think that by treating girls and women like people, boys and men will lose something. Something besides the notion that they’re inherently more valuable people, that is.

Sorry (not sorry), feminism is here to stay. And to show your support for Sophie and her awesome t-shirt and her even awesomer feminism, she’s asking people to post pictures of themselves wearing pro-feminist shirts to social media today, and to add the hashtag  #IDESERVEFREEDOMOFEXPRESSION. You go, girl!