Folks — This story is one that is perhaps a little less egregious than it appears at first blush. On Monday, a middle school banned its students from wearing t-shirts memorializing a 6th grader, Caitlyn Jackson, who died of leukemia over the weekend:
…as students arrived in the memorial shirts Monday morning, school administrators asked them to change the shirts, turn them inside out, or put duct tape over Caitlyn’s name.
That’s ridiculous. Agreed. The school’s reasoning?
Jones said the district’s decision was based on its “crisis management plan,” which she said is “based on a lot of research and expert opinion.” The plan specifically bars “permanent memorials” on the research-backed belief that memorials can remind students of their grief and, for some, can make it worse.
Administrators seem not to have realized that t-shirts are NOT permanent memorials. Moreover, children can handle grief, and have always done so. They can even face clothing that denotes death: for eons, they saw people dressed in actual mourning garb. So why are we treating this generation as especially vulnerable? They’re not.
However, the very next day the administration reversed its edict! How few schools admit that they might have been wrong and do a re-think? Never enough. Major props. And I also understand the school’s original position, however clunkily it responded to this individual case. I DO think over-memorializing suicide victims can make suicide seem more normal, or even appealing (if that’s the word). So there’s something to be said for not over-focusing on that particular demise in any way.
But cancer is a different story, and I’m glad the school ended up allowing this memorial. Caitlyn, RIP. – L
Video from before the school reversed its ban.