A Texas 7th grader was sent home because his Star Wars: The Force Awakens shirt depicted a Stormtrooper holding a weapon, KTRK (Houston) is reporting.
Colton Southern, like most 7th grade boys, is stoked about the upcoming installment of the Star Wars franchise, so much so that he wore a shirt depicting an Imperial Stormtrooper to school. The Stormtroopers — armored all in white, faceless, symbolic of everything that is evil — are popular with fans and appear on all manner of Star Wars merchandise, including T-shirts.
Today I had a nandos with mam, visited a library and broke a hole puncher Here’s me surrendering to a storm trooper pic.twitter.com/0LcGaat9nk
— Dodie Clark (@doddleoddle) December 11, 2015
Being soldiers, Stormtroopers carry weapons. And for Colton, that’s a problem: George Junior High School in Rosenberg, Texas, (a Houston suburb), like a lot of public schools in this country, has a “Zero Tolerance” policy when it comes to weapons — even when they’re depicted on T-shirts. Specifically, the Lamar Consolidated Independent School District, which includes Rosenberg schools, lists “symbols oriented toward violence” as being in violation of the district’s student dress code.
Of course, the weapon depicted on Colton’s Star Wars t-shirt — a “phaser” — isn’t a real weapon. It exists only in the imagination of Star Wars fans. You can’t go buy one at your local gun store (yet). But that didn’t matter to officials at Colton’s school; they told him it was banned because it depicted a (fictitious, non-existent) weapon, and told him to cover it up with his jacket.
— Kevin Quinn (@imkevinquinn) December 11, 2015
Colton’s dad, Joe Southern, notes that Colton had worn the Star Wars t-shirt to school “several times” before. He’s also a little aggravated that school officials are making a fuss over a fictitious weapon.
“It’s political correctness run amok. You’re talking about a Star Wars t-shirt, a week before the biggest movie of the year comes out. It has nothing to do with guns or making a stand. It’s just a Star Wars shirt.”
Not so fast, say school officials. As far as they’re concerned, Colton got off light. They could just as easily have sent Colton home with a reprimand and given him in-school suspension for the shirt. Instead, they just made him cover it up.
Colton Southern is hardly the first child to have been hassled at school for similar reasons; in the Zero Tolerance era, kids have been sent home and/or disciplined for almost comically ridiculous violations.
In Massachusetts, for example, 13-year-old Morgan LaPlume was sent home from Wamsutta Middle School and was given a one-day suspension from school, according to Huffington Post, for bringing a butter knife to school in her packed lunch; the teen wears braces and can’t bite into fruit, and brought the knife to cut her pear.
Similarly, in Kermit, Texas, a nine-year-old boy was suspended for telling a classmate he could use his Hobbit ring and make him disappear, according to Fox News, inspiring the following rather deadpan clip from his father over the whole situation:
“I assure you my son lacks the magical powers necessary to threaten his friend’s existence. If he did, I’m sure he’d bring him right back.”
For Colton, even though he escaped any real punishment for his Star Wars T-shirt, his dad re-iterated that his son is a good boy who is not given to violence.
“He’s a Boy Scout, active in church, volunteers at Brazos Bend State Park. There’s not a violent bone in his body. He’s just an excited kid for the movie.”
Do you think Colton deserved to get into trouble for wearing his Star Wars T-shirt? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
[Image via Shutterstock/Stefano Tinti]