Archive for Friday, November 8, 2013

High school game-day T-shirts cause stir

November 8, 2013


Some parents and school administrators say the cross-town rivalry between Lawrence and Free State high schools may have crossed the line last week when a number of Free State students showed up at the showdown football game wearing T-shirts referring to Lawrence High students as "peasants."

But so far, school and district officials have not indicated they intend to take disciplinary action over the shirts or impose any new policies regarding T-shirt propriety.

"I would not let my own child buy that shirt or wear one to school," Free State Principal Ed West said.

Gary Anderson, the parent of a Lawrence High student, said he was greatly offended when he saw the shirts at the game.

"I think it's just horrible that they were allowed to wear them," he said.

The incident may have caused more hurt feelings among parents and faculty than it did among students. Some Lawrence High students and parents acknowledged that their fans wore some offensive T-shirts as well.

But the reference to LHS students as "peasants" appears to have struck a chord among some in the community who say there is a growing perception that the schools are separated by a large divide in economic class.

"LHS students had T-shirts showing a lion eating a firebird," Anderson said. "But 'peasants' – you're insulting parents, you're insulting the students, alumni ... That T-shirt was over the line."

According to state demographic data, about 41 percent of Lawrence High students are considered economically disadvantaged, meaning they qualify for free or reduced-price meals. That compares to about 26 percent of Free State students.

The higher rate at Lawrence High is largely due to the fact that most of the city's subsidized housing for low-income families is located in the LHS attendance area. However, officials note that both high schools have large numbers of families in which the parents are university professors, graduate students or other kinds of professionals.

Some Free State High School students wore T-shirts at last week's football game against Lawrence High School referring to LHS students as 'peasants.' Some parents and school officials say the shirts crossed the boundaries of good taste and sportsmanship.

Some Free State High School students wore T-shirts at last week's football game against Lawrence High School referring to LHS students as 'peasants.' Some parents and school officials say the shirts crossed the boundaries of good taste and sportsmanship.

West said Free State had no role in producing or distributing the shirts. According to several people who spoke to the Journal-World, the shirts were produced by a Free State student who promoted them on social media and sold them out of the back of his car.

The green, long-sleeve shirts had the words "Free State Firebirds" on the front, beneath the image of a crown, which reportedly referred to the "royalty" theme that Free State students had adopted for the game. The back of the shirts read, "LHS Where All the Peasants Go."

"The shirts are an inappropriate response in the name of our rivalry," West said. "The experience provides the opportunity for learning what appropriate boundaries are in the name of good, clean fun."

Lawrence Superintendent Rick Doll also expressed regret over the shirts.

"The tee shirts created and worn by a small number of students during last week's football game were in poor taste and do not represent the views of Lawrence Free State High School," Doll said in an email to the Journal-World. "Students from both high schools use poor judgment at times in advancing an intracity rivalry. Both schools strive to use these occasions as learning experiences for our students."


Angel Gillaspie 5 months, 1 week ago

How is this any worse than "Muck Fizzou?" We used to call students who attended a cross-town rival day school "daisies." People are letting political correctness ruin everything. I don't find a t-shirt calling students "peasants" offensive at all. This is making a mountain out of a mole hill. Quit whining and man up, people!


Richard Heckler 5 months, 1 week ago

Just shows how little some know about old town Lawrence,Ks.

BTW is there something wrong with being a hard working, educated, and socially conscious peasant?

"'only rich kids go to FS" --- is this true? Hardly.


Mandi McNeer 5 months, 1 week ago

Free State opened in the fall of 1997! That was not 20 years ago.


Lora Gilliland Schneider 5 months, 1 week ago

This is a non-story. I'm a parent of a FSHS student (and he went to CJHS) and there are things that have offended me off and on in this community for years. I've witnessed this type of behavior on both sides of 15th street. Why the big fuss now? As a parent if you don't like it- teach your children to not behave this way. Teaching them to cry "FOUL" every time something offends them only teaches them to become a victim and that the world had better wear kid gloves while dealing with them. (Which will NOT happen in the real world.) Aren't there bigger issues that could use the community's time and attention?


Julius Nolan 5 months, 1 week ago

Looks like J-W simply trying to make something out of nothing to create a story. rival schools have always and will always taunt their rivals,sounds like some adults need to grow up.


Bob Smith 5 months, 1 week ago

Perhaps an "h" was omitted and the shirt was talking about pheasants.


Deanne Arensberg 5 months, 1 week ago

I find it interesting that no one talked to the student that made the shirts nor were any students wearing them interviewed. If they had, perhaps what would have been learned is that LHS has been taunting FS for years about 'buying your traditions', 'only rich kids go to FS', etc. So, a number of them decided to embrace the taunts by wearing some shirts. Some people are putting way too much into the meaning behind them.


Michele Dillon 5 months, 1 week ago

I moved here 8 years ago and always hear how Lawrence High is the better school; from adults as well as students. They even get precedence on 1320AM with broadcasts of games. Now that Free State is giving a little of it back people are offended.


Leslie Swearingen 5 months, 1 week ago

If we are honest wouldn't we have to admit that the common perception if that Lawrence High is the poor school and Free State the rich school, if for no other reason, that Free State is a newer and obviously a much better constructed school.


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