A pair of white high school students in Montana proved racism is alive and well when images circulated of them wearing t-shirts with “White Pride” on them.
In photos posted on Facebook, a male student and a female student – both unidentified juniors at Polson High School – wore white shirts that both read “Trump 2016” and had the white supremacist slogan.
The only difference between the students’ shirts was the male wore a tank top that said “redneck” with a Confederate flag on the front. The female’s t-shirt read “White Power.”
According to the Missoulian, the display came during the school’s homecoming events last week. Polson allowed students to dress up according to themes from Sept. 26 to Sept. 30
The theme “Color Wars” came Friday.
A long-standing name for the event, “Color Wars” involved the PHS Student Board of Governors assigning each grade level a color. Then, the classes compete to see how many people wear the designated hue that day.
This year, seniors wore black, juniors wore white, sophomores donned blue and freshmen sported green.
The class with the most participants wins the contest.
Social media users zeroed in on photos of the two juniors wearing racist shirts. The messages scribbled on them drummed up outrage online.
Polson High School wants their ignorance to be famous… pic.twitter.com/FJOQsTPdAW
— AllenaTapia (@AllenaT) October 1, 2016
In response, Polson Superintendent Rex Weltz told the Missoulian the school’s administrators ordered the offending pupils to their office. Once they became aware of the juniors’ clothing, officials told the students to change.
In a statement, Weltz called it an “inexcusable incident involving homecoming activities.” He added the school district “will take appropriate action based on our policies and procedures, which may include discipline for the individual students.”
According to the New York Daily News, the school ultimately gave the students a temporary suspension.
In reaction to the controversy, Montana’s American Civil Liberties Union released a statement.
“While all students have First Amendment rights, schools have the authority and the responsibility to prohibit speech that is harmful to other students,” it read in part. “The Confederate flag and slogan ‘White Power’ are symbols of hate and intolerance. This incident sadly reflects how we are failing our children in teaching them mutual tolerance and respect for those of different backgrounds.”
The group added it would conduct an investigation with PHS. Additionally, ACLU of Montana would help the school in implementing policies against racism and bullying.