Mariah Havard walked into Buckeye (Arizona) High School Tuesday morning ready for picture day.
But instead the 10th grader got the dreaded call to the office where the administration said her T-shirt wasn’t appropriate.
“I wasn’t able to wear the shirt anymore because somebody made a complaint,” Havard told KPNX-TV. “I was a little bit confused as to why I wouldn’t be able to wear something so meaningful to me.”
It was a Black Lives Matter T-shirt.
Havard told the station her assistant principal cited the school’s dress code policy, which bans clothing and accessories that can “disrupt the education process.”
So the 15-year-old called her mother.
“She was asked to change and she didn’t question them — she was being respectful,” Roxanne Havard told KPNX. “She went in the bathroom and was thinking about why she had to change.”
On Wednesday student Genesis Santoyo wore a Black Lives Matter T-shirt to school in solidarity with Havard and got the same treatment, the station said.
“I felt like I was being punished for who I am,” Santoyo, who is also black, told KPNX.
Another sticking point is that other T-shirts apparently worn at the school without incident also could be considered offensive.
“I’ve seen gay pride shirts, I’ve seen confederate flags,” Santoyo told the station. “I’ve actually seen a white power shirt once.”
KPNX said Santoyo and Havard showed social media photos of students wearing Confederate flag T-shirts at school, and Santoyo added that it was only after she claimed a double standard that the school banned Confederate flag clothing.
Roxann Havard told KPNX in a follow-up story that when she took her daughter back to school Thursday, she asked, “Mom, what if we get jumped?” Later that morning Roxann Havard was talking with the principal and the district superintendent.
When asked if Mariah would ever wear a Black Lives Matter T-shirt to school again, Havard told KPNX that’s a possibility until a better policy is enacted.