Tacoma Student Sent Home For Wearing Wrong Jersey: Bears Gain New Fan

Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Only on rare occasion do I disagree with our host on interpretations of law. On football, well that’s another matter. An unabashed Steeler and AFC fan, I run head long in Professor Turley’s (shall I say it?), obsession with those “Monsters of the Midway,” the Chicago Bears. Today, all that changed.

Thirteen-year-old Grendon Bailie has gotten a lesson in school fanaticism that’s not included on the curriculum. The Tacoma, Washington, seventh grader was an avid participant in Truman Middle School’s “Jersey Day” – problem is he wore the wrong jersey and was barred from attending classes.

Apparently, all of the 600 students were permitted to pay homage to the playoff bound Seahawks by breaching the usual dress code of khakis and polo shirts and donning the garish team colors of Light Blue, Steel Blue, Neon Green, and White. Little Grendon was having none of it.  A transplant from western Pennsylvania, this modern-day iconoclast showed up to classes with his prized Pittsburgh Steeler jersey, and a note from his parents explaining the virtue of loyalty.

“I very much stand behind Grendon’s right to support the team of his choice at public taxpayer-funded events,” wrote Mr. Bailie.  The simple logic fell on deaf ears and Grendon was sent home. Sniffed school spokesman, Stacy Flores, “No student was forced to wear Seahawks colors. If they chose not to do so they were asked to abide by the dress code. From what principals [at Truman] said, mostly all of the students and even some staff participated. There was just one student who did not abide by the rules.”

Ah, those rules again. Seems Ms. Flores forgot about the ones emanating from that parchment document that stands preserved at the National Archives and which guarantees freedom of expression. For the Bailies, there is no need to call in the ACLU to prove the point or fight the injustice, the victory in the Court of Public opinion being deemed sufficient.

“Look, I’m not trying to change the world,” said Mr. Bailie, “I’m just poking back because I take so much grief for being a Steelers fan.” Well, chalk up one victory today, Mr. Bailie.  Originally a passive observer to today’s Bears-Seahawks game, I’ll be donning my navy and orange, parking in front of my TV, and munching as much fried fowl as I can. The Bears have a new fan – if only for today.

Source: Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

37 thoughts on “Tacoma Student Sent Home For Wearing Wrong Jersey: Bears Gain New Fan”

  1. So, to combat gang activity symbolized by wardrobe, you set aside a day where only ONE gang gets to wear their colors? Whoever is sticking up for this school is an idiot.

  2. Well, Grendon gets to proudly wear his jersey for at least one more week — albeit not at school– and all his Seahawk buddies enjoy the same right but likely not the motivation to do so. Poetic justice enough for me.

  3. Here in Cleveland Brown’s Dawg Pound land where Steelers’ fans are hated with a depth that defies fathoming … there is always at least one brave soul, usually, but not always, male who will wear his/her Steelers’ jersey to the high school’s Support Your Browns’ Day.

    No one gets sent home … the fan is given a round of applause in every class for sheer guts. It’s a tradition.

  4. BBB

    Suporting the local team is supporting the local community. That’s a good thing. Life isn’t always fair, and expressions of diversity don’t need to be made acceptable in all situations

    teams (with some locally owned exceptions) could care less about the community where they play.
    Buy us a new stadium or we’ll find a town that will.
    amazing that people who rail against socialism have no problem using public funds to build a bunch of millionaires a new place to play.

  5. lottakatz,

    “and think it is false because any exception weakens the presumed effect of the code, if even on a limited basis.”

    I can live with no exceptions to the rule. I think it’s a damn shame, but I can live with it.

    The proposed alternative (letting each individual kid pick his own “colors”) would present a recognized risk of gang related altercations. As I recall, both certain colors and Raiders’ Jerseys were gang related.

  6. Where I live, a manageable bicycle ride from Green Bay, there is one established religion which seems to be deemed not to violate the non-establishment thing.

    Football. Packers.

    The last time I checked, it seems more toilet paper was made in or near Green Bay than anywhere else in the U.S. In a local area newspaper, I read that, without the Packers, Green Bay would be known as the T.P Capital of the World.

    When I was even more ignorant than I am now, though I may be mistaken about that, when I heard that the Packers were important to the Green Bay economy, I thought it was because the Packers were necessary for putting the toilet paper into shipping cartons.

    Laws were more lenient then, and people were less hostile and more forgiving, or I would have been killed in school as punishment for my autistic stupidity.

    But, like some people with trisomy 21, being stupid as I am makes it impossible for me to learn to be willing to hurt anyone.

    Perhaps like that student who came to school improperly dressed according to a dress code he did not understand, I came improperly brained to a society which I do not understand.

    I guess I can really empathize with such students. Those who just do not “get it.”

    If I cannot stand out and I cannot stand in, I can hardly stand it.

  7. BBB, Your further arguments still do not work because they are predicated on quantity or impact of notice taken. It’s not about quantity or impact of notice taken. If there is a rule then any exception makes both groups, those conforming to the original rule or the exception, noticeable. We can’t anticipate anything else because we don’t have any facts about how many kids wore jersey’s etc. All we know is that there were rules and an exception.

    My rebuttal is to your statement “The purpose of the dress code is so that student’s dress is not something that makes them stand out. The specific provision for exception maintained the spirit and purpose of the dress code.” and think it is false because any exception weakens the presumed effect of the code, if even on a limited basis.

  8. lottakatz,

    Alternative scenario: Grendon, why are you wearing the standard dress instead of a Seahawks Jersey? I’m not a Seahawks fan, I’m a Steeler’s Fan. Oh. OK.

    That would have been sure to scar him for life, just like it did a little Hungarian girl who didn’t wear green of St. Patrick’s Day. 🙂

    Do you think Grendon would have stood out more if he just wore the attire prescribed by the authorized dress code, or by wearing his Steeler’s Jersey?

    Do you think other students didn’t wear anything Seahawks related; either because they forgot, or it wasn’t important to them? Do you think they stood out more or less than Grendon?

  9. I’m with Elaine M on this one (her original posting) “That special “Jersey Day” was discriminatory against any child who didn’t want to wear or didn’t own a Seahawks jersey. That’s not right–and it’s not fair.”

    I will the conflicting statement in BBB’s posting to illustrate my rationale and agreement:

    BBB: “The purpose of the dress code is so that student’s dress is not something that makes them stand out. The specific provision for exception maintained the spirit and purpose of the dress code. The jersey that did not conform to those exceptions was intended to make Grendon stand out, to be different.”

    The very fact that there was this specific exception made anyone that did not wear a specific team jersey stand out no matter what else they were wearing. To simply adhere to the normal dress code made you obvious. Mr. Grendon would have stood out no matter what he was wearing other than the specified jersey. You can’t make that argument and have it work.

    True: I got in trouble because I was the only kid in class not wearing green on St. Patty’s day! Why aren’t you wearing green today, the teacher asked? I’m not Irish, I’m Hungarian, I replied. LOL.

  10. My beloved Bears are one game away from the Super Bowl. we get to play the hated Packers in Chicago. All is well with the world.

  11. Bob Esq.,

    I agree. Football is so much more interesting when two teams play the game. 🙂

    I know it’s not really that bad. Maybe the chickens will turn into hawks with the decrease in flurry activity. I hope.

    Chicago has been playing a very good consistent game, and the Seattle receivers have been dropping too many catchable balls.

  12. Elaine M.,

    “Still, I think it’s best for schools to focus on their main responsibility of educating children. Would you disagree with that?”

    Of course. Nobody has suggested that it should be otherwise.

    “I’m not sure what you mean by a diversity of dress being a problem. What was the problem caused by children wearing different kinds of clothes at Truman Middle School?”

    I used to live in that area. They had many problems with gang related activity. The dress code, along with other provisions, has worked well to help curb that activity. This has had the effect of creating a safer, more student friendly learning environment. It has enabled the school “to focus on their main responsibility of educating children”.

  13. Buckeye,

    True enough. But his willingness is beside the point if he is legitimately a Steelers fan. Sometimes being an iconoclast isn’t a deliberate decision or a chosen goal. It just happens by situation.

  14. BIL

    I don’t assert that. I only question his willingness to become an iconoclast. Most thirteen-year-olds want to blend in. Iconoclasm usually comes in college – when you no longer want to please the old man but rather want to annoy him.

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