Meagan and Fiona Downey: Mother proud of daughter for flipping off anti-mask parents
Outside Champlain Valley Union High School, anti-mask moms routinely hold up signs to protest the school’s mask protocols, which angered Fiona Downey
CHITTENDEN COUNTY, VERMONT: A high school student has gone viral for flipping off anti-mask protesters in front of her school. And her mother is proud of her. Outside the Champlain Valley Union High School in Hinesburg, Vermont, two anti-mask mothers routinely hold signs and protest the institution’s indoor mask requirement and have become a familiar sight.
The two women argue that the school’s mask mandate is a violation of individual rights. They are trying to push administrators to scrap the policy by holding signs with messages such as “The mask is not the cure” near the school’s entrance, as hundreds of parents and students arrive between 8 and 9 am.
“It’s my choice,” said one of the women told VTDigger, a Vermont-based news organization. “People need choice because we’re in America, and we need bodily autonomy – because once you don’t have bodily autonomy, you have a tyrannical government.” The other woman, who was a former Spanish teacher and volleyball coach, said she resigned from her school in August because administrators wouldn’t exempt her from wearing a mask in the classroom. She said she requested this because of a medical condition, though she did not disclose what it was.
The pair said they plan to participate in “#ParentRising,” a nationwide protest against school Covid-19 protocols from September 13 to 17. One of them said she was still waiting on an email from Children’s Health Defense, an anti-vaccine nonprofit running the protest, that would provide more information.
Reportedly, the school has received complaints from parents and staff members about the protests, but it won’t try to prevent the women from demonstrating, Principal Adam Bunting said. “We’ve had some interesting discussions about what it means to respect someone’s First Amendment rights,” he said. “If it starts creating a substantial and material disruption to the educational process, then it becomes a different discussion. At this point, there’s been very little disruption because no one really takes it seriously.”
Glenn Russell took the now-viral photo that shows a student flipping off the anti-mask protesters. On Friday morning, September 3, Meagan Downey said she got a text from her daughter, Fiona, saying how she “FLIPPED OFF THE ANTI-MASKERS AND SHE FLIPPED ME OFF BACK.” As per a report, the student had just started her first year at Champlain Valley Union High School in Hinesburg. “It’s just so hard to see them not taking safety precautions seriously and trying to persuade kids to do the worst of the worst,” the 14-year-old told reporters.
The day after the incident, Fiona reportedly got an email from her eighth-grade science teacher that the photo of her giving the finger to the anti-mask protesters. Her teacher, who recognized her, told Fiona she was proud of her.
Fiona and Meagan also reportedly noticed that some people were impersonating them in the comment sections of various social media platforms. “Some people were like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s my daughter, I’m so proud of her!’” said Fiona. “It was so weird.”
To counter that, Meagan tweeted, “My daughter is getting reports of other accounts claiming to be us so here is a pic of Fiona raising money for people who are unhoused and the local animal shelter, standing up for the rights of people with disabilities and women, and flipping off the anti-maskers from the bus.”
My daughter is getting reports of other accounts claiming to be us so here is a pic of Fiona raising money for people who are unhoused and the local animal shelter, standing up for the rights of people with disabilities and women, and flipping off the anti-maskers from the bus. pic.twitter.com/pr4UNM1UKz— Meagan Downey (@mdowney9) September 5, 2021
“People have offered to buy me creemees (essentially soft serve ice cream),” Fiona said. “Someone else offered to buy me shoes. And people offered to give me scholarships -- which, like, I’m fine with that. Love a scholarship.” Meagan said of her daughter, “She’s such a kind, compassionate person. I want this to be a time for her to thrive.”
On social media, many commented positively on the photo that was shared by HuffPost’s Philip Lewis, who said, “This photo should win a pulitzer.” One person said, “This 14-year-old girl who raised her middle finger to these crazed anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers is an American hero.” Another person said, “Students have always inspired me as an educator.” One person also said, “The present troubles me, but I'm not worried about the future. They seem to have a pretty good grasp of things.”
This 14-year-old girl who raised her middle finger to these crazed anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers is an American hero. 🙌 https://t.co/QYV2hhanHJ— Bill Madden (@maddenifico) September 7, 2021
Students have always inspired me as an educator https://t.co/ftesaM8aqv— Yavimaya Erik (@yavimaya_erik) September 6, 2021
The present troubles me, but I'm not worried about the future. They seem to have a pretty good grasp of things. https://t.co/Ao0vuyLNJl— Cindy Wentzler (@CindyWentzler) September 5, 2021