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Oklahoma boys, 8 & 5 removed from class for wearing BLM shirts to school

Jordan Herbert Ardmore OK BLM shirts
Pictured, Jordan Herbert Ardmore Oklahoma mother and her three sons who wore BLM shirts to school.
Jordan Herbert Ardmore OK BLM shirts
Pictured, Jordan Herbert Ardmore Oklahoma mother’s three sons who wore BLM shirts to school. Image via Facebook.

Jordan Herbert Ardmore Oklahoma mother’s two sons, aged 8 & 5 removed from class for wearing BLM shirts to school deemed political and disruptive to learning experience. Should political speech be allowed at school? 

Political apparel? Two Oklahoma boys, eight and five, were removed from class for wearing Black Lives Matter t-shirts last week after their mother was told politics is banned from schools since the George Floyd case. 

Mother Jordan Herbert in a series of Facebook posts, said her sons Bentlee and Rodney, who attend different schools in Ardmore, were both removed from class and made to sit in the school’s offices for the rest of the day because of their t-shirts last Tuesday. 

Her third child, 12-year-old Jaleon, a student at Ardmore Middle School, was the only one not asked to leave to class on account of his t-shirt.  

Speaking to the New York Times, Herbert said her middle child, Bentlee, had worn a BLM shirt to Charles Evans Elementary on April 30 and had been forced to turn it inside out because he was not permitted to wear a political message. 

‘My son is 8 he has no idea about politics and wearing a Black Lives Matter shirts has NOTHIN to do with politics,’ Herbert posted on Facebook.

Jordan Herbert Ardmore OK BLM shirts
Pictured, Jordan Herbert Ardmore Oklahoma woman who sent her three boys to school wearing BLM shirts.

Sayings and logos should be in good taste

Herbert said she visited the school principal after the incident and queried which part of the school dress code Bentlee had breached. 

She was directed to Ardmore City Schools Superintendent Kim Holland who reportedly told her after ‘the George Floyd case blew up, politics will not be allowed at school.’

When she pressed further, however, Holland conceded that the school would not be able to take further action against her son if he continued to wear BLM-emblazoned clothes because it was not against official school policy.  

The district’s student handbook states clothes with ‘sayings or logos’ should be ‘in good taste and school appropriate’. 

The policy says ‘clothing or apparel that disrupts the learning process is prohibited’, but does not specifically ban clothes which are deemed political. 

Instead, the handbook states the school principal has the final say in ‘any question referring to the appropriateness of dress’.

Holland later told the Daily Ardmoreite: ‘It’s our interpretation of not creating a disturbance in school. 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’.

Define learning, define education, define free speech and where it can and can not be exercised? 

Herbert told the Times she repeatedly voiced concerns BLM shirts were considered political, telling the paper, ‘I told Mr Holland a Black Lives Matter t-shirt is not politics. I don’t see it disrupting anything’.

On Tuesday, Herbert sent the trio to their schools wearing BLM t-shirts emblazoned with an image of a clenched fist. 

Mid-morning, she received a call from Rodney’s school, Will Rogers Elementary, telling her the five-year-old would be removed from class unless she brought him another t-shirt. 

Herbert refused to allow Rodney to change shirts. 

She later learned Bentlee had similarly been excluded from class for the day because he was wearing a BLM t-shirt. 

The incident has sparked a backlash across Oklahoma and prompted the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to pen a letter arguing barring BLM shirts from schools breaches student’s First Amendment rights

Which is to wonder, to what degree is a student’s first amendment rights to be respected to the degree such rights causes rifts, unease and agitation and preempts children from learning and reading and not being used as proxies by their parents for their own personal/political beliefs…?