The few area students who have dared to wear one of the controversial Bart
Simpson T-shirts to school have had their fashion statement squelched more
quickly than they can say "The Simpsons."
They've been forced to wear it inside-out - or arrange for a change of
Area school administrators say they can ban the shirts because they
"inappropriate" messages on clothing.
The shirts feature a likeness of the 10-year-old television cartoon
character saying, "I'm Bart Simpson. Who the hell are you?" or "Underachiever:
And Proud of It, Man."
After meeting with a few students who were sent to his office for wearing
the shirts at Memorial Junior High School in Lansing, Principal James Shrader
went a step further.
"The next day, I covered it with the entire student body on the PA (public
address system)," he said.
Since then, no other students have been sent to his office for wearing one
of the controversial shirts.
Barbara Hall, a spokesman for Brookwood Junior High School in Glenwood, said
a few students tried to wear the shirts to class, but were forced to call their
parents and have them bring a change of clothes.
"The school policy is that no inappropriate sayings are allowed," said Gwen
Devries, an assistant principal at Rickover Junior High School in Sauk Village.
"We talked to the children and told them that they had to wear them
inside-out," she said.
The policy is the same for high school students.
Dean's office spokesmen at Thornton Fractional South High School in Lansing,
Thornwood High School in South Holland and Bloom Trail High School in Chicago
Heights all said when a message on clothing crosses the lines of obscenity and
vulgarity, or when there is the possibility it could be offensive, it is banned.
Many area schools said the issue has not come up yet because no students
have been seen wearing the Bart Simpson T-shirts.
School District 154 1/2 Superintendent Al Vega said no students at Burnham
School have worn the shirts to school.
"Hopefully, it's because the parents feel the same way I do," he said. "Why
would parents allow kids to wear those to school? I, as a parent, am not going
to let my kid wear that to school."
Stan Rachowicz, a counselor at McKinley Junior High School in South Holland,
also said the shirts do not seem to be a problem.
"By not paying attention to it at all, it just kind of disappears," he said.
"It hasn't been a contagious thing as yet. As long as it doesn't become
disruptive, it will run its course."
Hall agreed: "Sometimes all this publicity causes more attention and makes
students want to wear something more."