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(Video: Fox News)
Student athletes in Virginia are outraged after a school board refused to allow them to wear “pray for peace” shirts in support of Ukraine.
The Montgomery County school board said that the shirts were too “political” and “religious,” for the students to be allowed to wear, and the students of the Blacksburg High School Lacrosse team are pushing back.
Team captain Elise Levison and her mother Clare Levison went on Tuesday’s “Fox & Friends First” and discussed their efforts to push back against the school board’s ban.
“The team was pretty upset. All we were trying to do is just spread a positive message that was really our only intention, and we’ve actually gotten a lot of support from the school,” Elise said to Fox News co-host Carley Shimkus.
According to Elise, there’s been no shortage of support within the school itself:
“I’ve had teachers stop me in the hallway and say what we’re doing is the right thing and that they support us, so the community feedback has been really great.”
Elise said that the team was inspired by their coach, who volunteered at orphanages in Ukraine which is currently resisting Russia’s war of conquest and has reportedly been the scene of many brutal and shocking atrocities and war crimes.
Clare, Elise’s mother, was similarly shocked, and expressed her disappointment in the decision, which she says “defies all logic:”
“I just can’t believe that the interim superintendent actually said that peace is political because peace comes from war and war is about people with different views.”
“Pray for Peace is neither a religious nor political statement. It is a universally accepted sentiment,” Clare wrote regarding the issue on Facebook:
Even attempts to make it a sports-related pun were shot down, as the team proposed “play for peace,” only to have the school board nix that idea as well, Elise said.
“The school has really doubled and even tripled down on their stance, so I hope that this issue continues to get national attention because I think people do need to know what’s taking place in the schools. And this one is just completely beyond the pale,” Clare added.
In response, Sue Kass, the chairwoman of the school board, alongside Interim Superintendent Whitaker released a joint statement to CBS News regarding the controversy:
“The concerns about the warmups are not related to student speech as the team members did not initiate the discussion or purchase the shirts. The role of the School Board is to implement our policies in an unbiased way. Staff-led activism is a topic our Board has been discussing throughout the year, including flags, posters, and clothing that show support for specific groups or issues. It is not permissible for school-issued, staff-sponsored apparel to promote specific causes, groups, or beliefs.”
However, that bureaucratic response is unlikely to win any friends in a state already roiling with parent backlash against school boards.
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