"Just the attention this incident has been given has certainly given the student and her mother the attention they sought," Fayetteville School District Superintendent Paul Hewitt reportedly told CNN. ”This is not a major free speech issue.”
On September 11, Rubiano wore her “Virginity Rocks” T-shirt to Ramay Junior High in Fayetteville, Ala. She was called into the principal’s office and told to take it off and wear a gym shirt for the rest of the day.
“My vice principal told me ‘I love the shirt and I agree with it, but I just don’t think it's acceptable for school’,” 13-year-old Rubiano told local news station KSFM. “That ‘it opens up too many doors for conversation’.”
Bambi Crozier, Rubiano’s mother, says she was not informed when her daughter was asked to change clothes, contrary to the school’s official policy.
She added that she has never spoken to Hewitt, and denied his accusation that she and her daughter sought out the media spotlight.
“I've been nothing but respectful about this entire matter -- and then I read the CNN article wherein the superintendent Hewitt attacks me and my daughter claiming we are attention seekers,” Crozier told CNSNews.com in a Facebook message.
“That's ridiculous and outrageous. The school violated their policy by banning a shirt that is not offensive, and then violated their policy again by not notifying the parent.”
The school’s dress code says that clothing that is “likely to cause a disruption within the school environment” is prohibited. But Crozier says the T-shirt did not cause any kind of disturbance.
In addition, Crozier mentioned that Alabama state law specifies that if a school chooses to have sex education, abstinence must be stressed. “Virginity is not offensive,” she said.
“No distraction was caused when the Vice Principal requested Chloe remove it. She was instructed to remove it for FEAR of starting conversations,” Crozier said. “Chloe told me no student said anything about the shirt last week until she was pulled from class to change it. THEN there was plenty of distraction because all the students wanted to know WHY Chloe had to change it.”
Crozier also says that she and her daughter did not reach out to the news media after the incident.
“When my daughter made me aware of the situation, I made a simple remark on my Facebook [page] to all my friends,” she explained. “The next thing I know, I have a friend that called me at work telling me she shared my story with her reporter friend and he would be calling me. I didn't care if they wanted to run a story about it.”
Both mother and daughter say they respect the school’s decision, even though they disagree with it. “It's about a better choice than condoms in school or becoming pregnant in school,” Rubiano said of her decision to wear the shirt, which she purchased at a Christian festival this summer, to school.
Hewitt maintains that whatever the message, the school was simply adhering to its rules.
"If a student wore a shirt that said 'Sex Rocks' or 'Smoke More Pot,' they would also have been asked to remove it for the same reason; it would no doubt be disruptive," CNN reported. The superintendent did not answer questions sent to him by CNSNews.com.