A high school in Washington state canceled a 9/11 tribute after school staff reportedly feared the tribute would be seen as “racially insensitive.”
What are the details?
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, students at Eastlake High School in Sammamish — a town east of Seattle — were prepared to wear red, white, and blue for a football game scheduled for Sept. 10.
“Red, White, and Blue Friday!” an Instagram post from the school said. “Dress in your USA best!”
However, Eastlake staff pulled the plug on the tribute over fears that supporting America by wearing red, white, and blue could “unintentionally cause offense to some who see it differently,” KTTH-AM reported.
Students reportedly learned of the decision on the morning of the game.
What was the reaction?
Students and parents were understandably upset by the last-minute decision.
“At this point, I was fairly upset and confused as to why the theme was changed so I went around asking students in our leadership,” one student told KTTH. “They had explained that red, white, and blue was going to be seen as racially insensitive and may affect people in a way that we will not understand and for that reason that we were to change our theme.”
“I was fairly upset and ended up not attending the game,” another student said.
“There is always the potential that someone may be offended by something but this decision baffles me,” one mother told KTTH. “I would argue that many more people are offended by the decision to ban the theme of wearing red, white and blue. If there is one thing that has the potential to unite us all, it’s that we are Americans.”
One parent, writing on Facebook, reportedly speculated the decision was made to not offend the other school’s football team.
“The leadership and equity team decided that since it was against a predominantly black team they did not want to ‘unintentionally cause offense to some who see [our flag] differently,'” that parent speculated.
What did the school say?
Upset parents who reached out to administration at Eastlake High School received the same response, a statement that said:
I understand your concerns and frustration. Our leadership teachers made this decision and explained it to students. I know tomorrow is 9/11 and understand the sacrifice and values our flag represents, but I think they just did not want to unintentionally cause offense to some who see it differently.
It’s actually not clear who decided to cancel the tribute. District communications director Shannon Parthemer told KTTH it was a single staff member, whom she did not identify.
Still, Parthemer defended the decision by citing a lack of time to explain why students would be dressed in red, white, and blue.
“Since it was not a home game, there was no opportunity to have an announcement about Patriot’s Day and to share why students were dressed in red, white, and blue,” she told KTTH.