A middle school girl by the name of Justice Cillo-Smith from New Jersey caused quite a controversy regarding LGBTQ issues recently because of a t-shirt. This particular shirt was inspired by the Broadway musical The Prom, which Cillo-Smith had recently seen. The musical follows several high school students who work to help out a fellow student who is a lesbian and is told she can’t bring her girlfriend to the prom. Cillo-Smith, who identifies as a lesbian, was greatly inspired by the film and thus chose to purchase the shirt after the performance. Excited to show the shirt to her friends, she wore the outfit to school. However, it didn’t go off as well with the school staff, according to Today.
When the 13-year-old, an eighth-grader at Liberty Middle School in West Orange, New Jersey, wore the shirt to school, she was told it was a violation of the dress code. During the second period, she was called down to the guidance office, where she was told that the shirt was not appropriate for school.
Cillo-Smith’s mother, Gwen Wu, was angry when she discovered how the school’s staff had reacted to her daughter’s shirt and their reasoning for deeming it unacceptable.
“The student assistance counselor referenced the (dress code’s) sixth bullet point when I spoke with her over the phone. It forbids ‘articles of clothing that contain references to illegal substances, sexual innuendos, inappropriate language, and pictures, sayings or symbols that show affiliation with hate groups, gangs, or demeaning messages directed toward any individual, group or association'”.
In addition, the staff emphasized that the shirt could be seen as disruptive or distracting to other students. They pointed out that students in middle school might not be as accepting and open of LGBTQ topics as those in high school might be.
Cillo-Smith is working to use this incident to shed light on LGBTQ acceptance and equal rights. Last week, she and her mother attended the West Orange Board of Education meeting. There has also been much discussion of this topic on social media.
“I hope people learn that it’s not OK to discriminate against LGBTQ children and that you can’t just respect what people in power say because they could be wrong. It’s important to stand up for your own rights, even if you have to go against everything the school is telling you,” Cillo-Smith said of the experience.
The level of acceptance of LGBTQ related topics, of course, varies from state to state, and some schools are still a long way off from acceptance. For example, as The Inquisitr previously reported, two football players from Utah were suspended from their high school after they were caught on video burning an LGBTQ flag.