An 8-year-old Black elementary student in Oklahoma was punished for wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt to school, his mother says.

Ben Stapleton wore the BLM shirt last week at Charles Evans Elementary School in Ardmore and was instructed by the principal to turn the shirt inside out during P.E. class, according to local outlet KXII. But when Stapleton wore the shirt again, the child was allegedly taken out of class and forced to sit in the principal’s office for hours in what his mother described as "modern-day segregation." 

“They pulled me out of P.E. and told me to put my shirt inside out and then I started playing,” the child said.

ADVERTISEMENT

His mother, Jordan Herbert, said she contacted the school on Monday and was told by Ardmore Superintendent Kim Holland that students would not get in trouble for wearing Black Lives Matter shirts.

“Y’all know he knows nothing about politics or his rights, so y’all make him turn it inside out because you don’t like it,” Herbert said.

She decided to send all three of her kids to school in Black Lives Matter shirts the following day.

My 3 handsome young men! #blacklivesmatter

Posted by Jordan Herbert on Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Two of her children, including Ben and his 5-year-old younger brother, were taken out of class, according to Herbert. They spent the day in the principal’s office, missing recess, lunch with their friends in the cafeteria and Ben’s weekly tutoring session.

In an interview with McClatchy News, the mother said her son was forced to face a wall for six hours in the school office.

“They say no disciplinary action was taken, but making them sit in the office missing everything was modern day segregation,” Herbert said.

Her middle school-aged son was reportedly not punished for wearing his shirt.

Holland told KXII that the issue stemmed from the school’s dress code policy, which discourages political clothing or anything that could disrupt learning.

“I understand what she is saying, but school is not the place to have all that, y’know political back and forth and upheaval. We’re trying to teach kids things like reading and writing,” said Holland.

The school’s dress code says “shirts and tops with sayings or logos printed on them should be in good taste and school appropriate.”

The superintendent said in an interview with the outlet that it is normal for students to spend time in the principal’s office for breaking dress code policy.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We’re trying to be more neutral in the school and be advocates for all of our children in what they need,” said Holland.

A group of students and supporters protested outside of the elementary school on Wednesday, with Ben holding a sign that read: “Education! Not Discrimination!”

Herbert told the outlet that she just wants the school district to “allow my kid to express how his life matters, that’s it, that’s all.”