Kansas City, Mo., Jan 16, 2020 / 10:00 am (CNA).- School administrators in Wentzville, Missouri, threatened to suspend a seventh grade student if he returned to school wearing a sweatshirt printed with the slogan “Virginity Rocks.”
The student, 13-year-old Londyn Piglowski, received the sweatshirt as a birthday gift from a classmate.
Local news station KMOV4 reported Thursday that Piglowski was pulled out of social studies class and taken to the principal’s office after wearing the shirt to school. The principal instructed him to either remove the shirt or turn it inside out.
“He said it was a little bit borderline for the school and he told me to take it off or flip it inside or else they would have to take action," said Piglowski to KMOV4.
“I didn’t think this was bad so whenever they told me to take it off I was like, ‘why am I taking this off because it’s a positive message?’”
Piglowski removed the shirt, and his parents say the Wentzville School District threatened to suspend him from class if he showed up to school wearing the shirt again. He says his friend, who owns the same shirt, did not get in trouble when he wore it to school.
His parents have said their son’s treatment for wearing a shirt that advocated virginity was inconsistent with other school policies.
“They teach sex ed," said Todd Piglowski, Londyn’s father. “How can you teach it but then say hey let’s not have it on a sweatshirt?"
The Wentzville School District has a dress code which prohibits clothing which advocates “immoral, sexual, or violent behavior.”
The school defended the decision to make Piglowski change clothing. In a statement, the school said that the shirt was “potentially disruptive to the educational environment.”
“We routinely have conversations with students around attire that may be inappropriate and by and large, our students and families work with our staff to address any concerns,” said the statement.
Piglowski is not the first student who has been reprimanded over wearing a pro-virginity shirt.
“Virginity rocks” shirts have been sold for over a decade by various Christian organizations to promote responsible sexual activity.
In 2008, students at Albemarle High School in Virginia reported that they were told by officials to stop wearing the shirts. The students were wearing them in an attempt to promote abstinence. The school district denied that the students were ever told what to wear.
Six years later, a student at Ramay Junior High School in Fayetteville, Arkansas was asked to change out of her “virginity rocks” shirt. The student, Chloe Rubiano, an eighth grader, said it was one of her favorite shirts, and that she had bought it at a Christian festival.
In Rubiano’s case, the school vice principal said that while she agreed with the message on the shirt, she did not think it was appropriate for school as “it opens up too many doors for conversations."
Piglowski’s shirt came via the website of YouTube personality Danny Duncan, who sells clothing items with the slogan on them. Duncan, who makes skateboard and prank videos, started selling the apparel in 2018, and has said he designed the shirts to be tongue-in-cheek, but also with a positive message.
Since Duncan, who has nearly 3.5 million subscribers, began selling merchandise with the phrase to a more secular audience, increasing numbers of students have reported punishments.
In 2018, a 17-year-old at Roseburg High School in Oregon was forced to go home and change after he came to school wearing a Virginity Rocks shirt from Duncan’s apparel line. He went home and changed into another Duncan shirt–one that made a sexual innuendo. That shirt was allowed to be worn.
The district superintendent defended the decision to prohibit the Virginity Rocks shirt, saying that the school “would have made the same decision if the student had been wearing a T-shirt that said sex rocks or smoke more pot.”
In October 2019, a student at Chetek-Weyerhaeuser High School in Chetek, Wisconsin, was suspended for a day after he came to school wearing one of Duncan’s virginity rocks sweatshirts.
The student, sophomore Thorn Willsui, was suspended after he refused to take off the sweatshirt or turn it inside out.