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. BBB,

    Why I suggested providing students with a list of causes was because leaving it open to any and all causes could “cause” a problem. That said, it might be a good idea for the students to make suggestions about what causes might be listed and investigated. Still, I think it’s best for schools to focus on their main responsibility of educating children. Would you disagree with that?

    *****

    “Schools like Truman established dress codes because diversity in dress was a problem. Given that recognized problem, permitting the students to wear any team jersey they desire would likely make them culpable, at least in part, for any unintended consequence. Knowing that, the only acceptable alternative would be to have no team support day at all.

    “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.”

    *****

    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?

    All children should be treated fairly. The adults in their lives should set the example for what fairness is all about. Their school administrators shouldn’t have an attitude that implies “Life ain’t fair,kid. Get over it!” All children should be treated the same in a public school–whether they support the “local team” or not. (Some kids don’t even like sports.) Public schools educate a diverse population. They are all about inclusion–not exclusion.

  2. Buckeye,

    And your proof for the assertion that the kid isn’t a Steeler fan?

  3. Elaine M.,

    “How about giving children a list of good causes”

    Who gets to determine what causes are on your list of”good causes”? Does the discrimination then become acceptable?

    What do you do when the student doesn’t support any of the causes that you consider to be “good causes”? Do you let them support any cause they want?

    Schools like Truman established dress codes because diversity in dress was a problem. Given that recognized problem, permitting the students to wear any team jersey they desire would likely make them culpable, at least in part, for any unintended consequence. Knowing that, the only acceptable alternative would be to have no team support day at all.

    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.

  4. BBB,

    I’d like to make one correction. I meant to type ONES and not one in the following paragraph:

    A thought on your “Breast Cancer Awareness Day”: How about giving children a list of good causes, have them do some research on the subjects, and let THEM pick which ONES they’d like to show support for? Mandating someone support a particular cause isn’t the best way to get people–young or old–really invested in the cause. Let children have some ownership–and in-depth understanding–of what they show support for.

  5. BBB

    My sarcasm was aimed at the thought that a thirteen-year-old, who will probably become neither an assassin nor a hero, should have to buck the system to satisfy his father’s problem with being a “Steeler” in a “Sea Hawk” culture.

    Kids, sons particularly, are anxious to please their fathers, and too often fathers who have been gifted with sons misuse that willingness to please.

    A thirteen year old iconoclast? Maybe – maybe not.

  6. I have a solution to this school’s stupid policy. Just make it Bears Spirit Day and all will be solved. Da Bears!
    Elaine,
    I guess a teen ager on a horse is more dangerous than a teen driving a car!?????

  7. BBB,

    A “Seahawks Support Day” is still discriminatory. As a former teacher, I’d suggest that schools stick to focusing on the education of their students. Schools should be institutions of teaching and learning…and not facilities for building support for professional sports teams.

    A thought on your “Breast Cancer Awareness Day”: How about giving children a list of good causes, have them do some research on the subjects, and let THEM pick which one they’d like to show support for? Mandating someone support a particular cause isn’t the best way to get people–young or old–really invested in the cause. Let children have some ownership–and in-depth understanding–of what they show support for.

    The school officials at the Truman Middle School are sending their students a very bad message. They should be criticized for what they did to Grendon Bailie. They showed the other children that it’s okay to ostracize someone who has a different opinion from you.

    IMO, the school administrators who barred Glendon from attending class if he wore a Steeler jersey should be suspended from school!

  8. buckeye,

    “This can turn out one of two ways.

    Either Grendon will become increasing isolated and one day attempt to assassinate a political figure (of whatever persuasion obtains at that time).

    Or Grendon will become the heroic leading light in throwing off the shackles of authority (of whatever persuasion obtains at that time).”

    If every wrong (real or perceived) would lead to that person either becoming an assasin or an heroic leader, we would have a lot more of both.

  9. Elaine M.,

    Try “Seahawks Support Day” instead of “Jersey Day” and present the argument again. The exception to the dress code provided a specific exception.

    “Either the school should have held a special “Jersey Day” when EVERY student was allowed to wear a jersey of his/her choice–or not had one at all.”

    If the dress code required all students to wear white shirts/blouses and blue pants/skirts, and the school decided to have a “Breast Cancer Awareness Day” where students were permitted to wear pink shirts/blouses; would you say that green shirts/blouses should also be acceptable (for students who didn’t care to participate in the day supporting breast cancer awareness), because that student should be able to express his/her support for their environmental cause?

  10. Speaking of sports,I think the president will be playing a new position and game with this new congress now:

  11. BBB,

    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. Either the school should have held a special “Jersey Day” when EVERY student was allowed to wear a jersey of his/her choice–or not had one at all.

  12. This can turn out one of two ways.

    Either Grendon will become increasing isolated and one day attempt to assassinate a political figure (of whatever persuasion obtains at that time).

    Or Grendon will become the heroic leading light in throwing off the shackles of authority (of whatever persuasion obtains at that time).

    How things have changed from when I was thirteen – those of us in the silent generation didn’t have nearly that much pressure.

  13. In other words, to repress individuality and make a bunch of good little mindless corporate drones.

  14. “Truman Dress Standards reflect pride and dignity, and demonstrate that school is a place to study and learn. Our Truman Dress Standards, which are conservative in nature, support student safety and promote a focused, orderly school climate. They have been chosen to be consistent, affordable,
    and available. Standards are also designed to provide a “business-like” atmosphere, to help students develop the lifelong habit of dressing appropriately for the workplace and not to keep up with current fashion trends.”

    http://www.tacoma.k12.wa.us/Schools/Schools%20Requiring%20Uniforms/Truman.pdf

  15. Yeah.

    Because being different and standing out are such bad things for a child expected to blindly follow authoritarian enforced conformity instead of their own sense of both loyalty and individuality.

    I never thought I’d say this, but “GO BEARS!”

  16. I understand that this school has a strict dress code. The administration decided to suspend portions of that dress code so that students could show support for their local team. The exceptions to the standard dress code were specifically spelled out.

    I think this is a case of ‘give them an inch and they’ll take a mile’. When someone insists that anything more than an inch is not permitted, others will complain that the inch given wasn’t the inch they wanted.

    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.

    Go Seahawks! 🙂

  17. Sig Heil…Sig Heil…off to work we go…the machine must be properly prepared….not everyone can become Pope….

  18. School officials doing their best to teach youth how one must always conform to the group. And then they’ll wonder why kids give in to peer pressure. (Can you hear me slapping myself upside the head?)

    *****

    Here’s a “spirit week” school story from my neck of the woods. It happened last fall.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QgB_fVueVI&fs=1&hl=en_US]

    Teen suspended for riding horse to Hamilton-Wenham school
    http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2010/11/by_l_finch_glob_7.html

    Excerpt:
    A senior at Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School was suspended for two days last week after the 17-year-old dressed as a knight and took a three-minute tour on his family’s horse around the school. A friend who dressed as a squire and led the horse by the reins was given a one-day suspension and two hours community service.

    “They told my son it’s the equivalent of bringing in a loaded firearm to school” Ron DePaolis, the teenager’s father said today in a telephone interview. But he “brought the spirit up of the student body. The kids need that, a little boost in the morale.”

    DePaolis said his son, Dan, approached him earlier in the week for permission to ride Pierre, the family’s horse, around the school grounds to celebrate spirit week.

    Thinking it was a clever idea, DePaolis and his wife, an equestrienne, accompanied their son on his early morning march around the school.

    But only minutes into the ride, the high school’s associate principal put a stop to the spectacle, suspending Dan on the spot, his father said.

    DePaolis said the horse was calm, under control, and walking at a slow pace.

    But school officials deemed the stunt to be dangerous over concerns the animal could hurt someone, DePaolis said.

  19. I know Grendons smile is even broader this morning with the Steelers win yesterday,should Seattle lose today that smile will be even broader.

  20. Even an unabashed fan of the Steelers’ mortal enemy, the Cleveland Browns, such as myself sees the injustice in this. Moreover, as a resident of DC (home of the “Deadskins”), I know the importance of deflating the arrogance of home teams in places with no real significant pro sports heritage.

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