american school censors feminist t-shirt, feels the wrath of amazing 13-year-old

How one teenage is igniting conversations about feminism, education, and freedom of expression.

by Emily Manning
21 April 2015, 8:35am

Image via @idiotsophie

Late last year, TIME got its fair share of abuse for propositioning "feminist" as a word that should be banned in 2015, alongside the trivialising likes of "bae," "basic," and "yaaasss." This week, an Ohio middle schooler named Sophie experienced similar censorship upon discovering that her school doctored a class photo to remove the word "Feminist" from her t-shirt and the kick ass 13-year-old isn't standing for it.

Sophie rocked a tee with "Feminist" hand-written (nailing those Raf Simons vibes to boot) on it in her class picture and upon the photo's release, discovered that the word had been blacked out entirely. MSNBC reports that her school's principal, Kendra Young, told a local news station that while the shirt doesn't violate the school's dress code, she made the decision because other students can purchase the class photos, and, rather ironically, wanted to avoid any "unintended controversies."

That limp excuse for political correctness wasn't good enough for Sophie, who took to Twitter and Instagram in protest, citing her right to freedom of expression and rallying her classmates to wear "A SHIRT WITH A PHRASE LIKE 'I DESERVE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION' OR 'FEMINISM ISN'T OFFENSIVE.'"

According to Women You Should Know's report, principal Young reached out with an apology to Sophie's mother and asked if the situation had been sufficiently rectified. "I told her she needed to apologise to Sophie and ask her that question. She seemed dumbfounded by that," Sophie's mum, Christine, told the blog. "She apologised to Sophie and asked 'What do you want from this?' Sophie replied, 'I want everyone to realise that we NEED feminism. I want you to have someone come into the school and educate everyone about feminism. I want us to go to the news station together and show the people that we are working together the make this school and our community and better place for everyone. I don't think that's too much to ask.'"

Other feminists have taken to social media to share Sophie's story hashtags #IDeserveFreedomOfExpression and #KeepFeminismInSchools, occasioning larger conversations about feminism and education.


Text Emily Manning