A fifth grader in Pennsylvania was taken out of school for a day after he wore face paint commemorating his joy over the death of Osama bin Laden.
Jennifer Tressler made the decision to pull her son Connor out of the Middle Paxton Elementary School earlier this week after the school’s principal gave her the option of either taking him home or having him wash his face. School officials had determined the face paint marking bin Laden’s death was too disruptive, and a spokesperson for the school district said it was in violation of student dress code.
Connor’s face paint depicted a flag, the date of bin Laden’s death and the letters U-S-A.
The American Civil Liberties Union argued that the school district overreacted.
“There’s a difference between discussion and debate, which schools should encourage, and a breakdown of discipline in the classroom,” ACLU attorney Mary Catherine Roper told The Patriot-News of Harrisburg.
For his part, Connor told the newspaper he has no plans to paint his face for school again, however, “They didn’t say anything about my shirt, so I’ll stick to T-shirts,” he said.
I have to disagree with the ACLU that the school district overreacted. If they have a policy against students dressing in a manner that causes a distraction, then something as inflammatory as the date of the death of a terrorist painted on a kid’s forehead should not be allowed.
While I know there’s been a lot of debate about how to celebrate the death of bin Laden while at the same time not celebrating death in general, I think parents are doing their kids a disservice if they’re focusing on bin Laden’s death as a party instead of talking about what it probably means to the families of the victims of 9/11. When someone dies, I think it’s a solemn occasion no matter who it is and should be treated as such, even and especially if one person’s death brings relief and closure to many.
Do you think Connor should have been made to wash off his face paint?
Image: Creative Commons