Utah school slammed for omitting cheerleader with Down syndrome from team pic
The eighth-grade student was left out of the cheerleading team picture in her school’s yearbook
LAYTON, UTAH: A junior high school in Davis School District has come under fire for ableism after an eighth-grade student was left out of the cheerleading team picture in her school’s yearbook. The student who was left out suffers from Down syndrome, a genetic disorder causing developmental and intellectual delays.
“There were two pictures that were taken — one picture was taken with Morgyn and one picture was taken without Morgyn,” said Jordyn Poll, the student’s elder sister, speaking with KSL TV. “She was sad. She was sad that she was not included.”
So @shorelinejrhigh has a young woman with Down syndrome on the cheer squad. They took a team photo with her in it. Sent her away. Then took another photo to use for their publicity.— David M. Perry (@Lollardfish) June 16, 2021
Take a look. Same photo shoot. Same time. Entirely deliberate. pic.twitter.com/ndr2gK2zqZ
“I don’t think discrimination was intended,” said Jordyn of the staff and management of Shoreline Junior High School. “I don’t think there was malice. I don’t think that people meant to be mean… When we asked her how she [Morgyn] felt, she said, ‘These are my friends and I want them to know they’re my friends’.”
But their mother doesn’t agree. The mother’s statement was shared by journalist David M. Perry on Twitter. She said, “Morgyn's name wasn't even mentioned as a part of the team. She wasn't included. She spent hours learning dances, showing up to games, and cheering on her school and friends but was left out.”
As per the KSL TV report, Morgyn is the team manager. She went to meets and practices with the cheer squad. “I hope that no one ever has to experience the heartbreak that comes when the person they love comes home from school devastated and shows them that they're not in the picture with their team. I hope that one ever has to explain why people deliberately choose to be exclusive,” her mother said.
The girl's name is Morgyn. Here's what her mom said about the event. The idea that it was a mistake is not credible. Someone thought an atypical child wasn't cute enough (wrong!) and cut them out.— David M. Perry (@Lollardfish) June 16, 2021
And it's not the first time they did it. pic.twitter.com/Ocm4nhDAlx
She further accused, “This is the second time in three years that sweet Morgyn has been left out of the yearbook. Two years ago they didn't even include her in the class list. We contacted the school administration this year, and the answer we got was as ignorant as the photo.”
She added, “To the Shoreline Junior administrator who blatantly said they didn't know what we were expecting of them and there was nothing they could do, I hope you can take this away -- you can be better and I expect you to be better.”
The school has offered an apology in a statement published on Facebook. It says, “We are deeply saddened by the mistake that was made that omitted a student photo out of the yearbook. Apologies have been made to the family and we sincerely apologize to all others impacted by this error. We are continuing to look at what has occurred, and to improve our practice.”
But more than 400 comments under the post accused the school of hiding behind the word “mistake”. One commenter said, “It's not a mistake when this is the second year it's happened. It's not a mistake when there were two separate photos taken. It's not a mistake when the child wasn't given a uniform or pom poms. It's NOT a mistake when an administrator is disrespectful and asks the parent what does she expect them to do! This screams discrimination. Your actions are disgraceful!”
Another person wrote, “An apology is just words, where is the action? Now Morgyn doesn’t have a yearbook where she is included in her team photo or even mentioned. That’s a lifetime of hurt.” On a photo of the cheer squad, uploaded onto the official Instagram account of the school in January 2020, the comments are full of people asking why Morgyn was not there.