An incident last week at Lee’s Summit North High School has caught worldwide attention after a student was told that an outfit he wore caused a distraction.
Morgan Ball, a 17-year-old student at North, was celebrating his birthday last week when he wore an outfit that included a beaded shrug, lace gloves and fashion belt.
According to his mother Cheri’s Facebook page, Morgan was told to remove the items after he arrived at school.
Cheri Ball alleges that a school administrator called Morgan to the office to address his appearance because some students and staff members complained that his outfit was distracting.
Attempts to reach both Morgan and Cheri Ball for comment were unsuccessful.
“Instead of taking the opportunity to educate those individuals about Morgan’s right to self-expression, (Morgan) was asked to remove his beaded shrug, lace gloves and fashion belt,” Cheri Ball’s post read. “My son initially complied, but decided to put the items back on because he was not violating the dress code. He was called back to the office, and to avoid disciplinary action, he removed the items again.”
Cheri Ball added that Morgan was upset and embarrassed about the situation.
“He is one of the most respectful, kind and compassionate students at the school,” Ball wrote. “He’s an honor student and very active in the music and drama department. This young man is an exemplary student and deserves the school’s support.”
According to the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District’s dress code policy, “wearing apparel or personal appearance that the administration feels disrupts the learning process…will not be acceptable.”
Janice Phelan, a spokeswoman for the district, provided a statement that read in part: “Although we cannot comment on specific student issues, there were no students sent home or assigned discipline for dress code violations at Lee’s Summit North High School on Friday, March 13.”
The statement also said that the school become aware of the concern via social media and that the school’s principal, Jeff Meisenheimer, reached out to the Ball family to discuss concerns.
“No parents contacted the school principal with concerns regarding a dress code issue,” the statement read.
Meisenheimer was expected to meet with the family Wednesday, according to Cheri Ball’s post.
Cheri Ball stated on Facebook that Morgan’s friends were using social media to express their outrage and offer support. T-shirts with the logo #clothinghasnogender were made and some students plan to wear the shirts in a show of support when they return from spring break March 23, the Facebook said.
Morgan’s Twitter feed said the news had reached Austria and England.
The movement — and the hashtag #clothinghasnogender — has gained traction in various reports around the world as well as on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.
“My family is overwhelmed by the love and support we have received and want to express our deepest gratitude to all the friends, family, school staff and strangers that have reached out to us,” Cheri Ball wrote. “We have not had the opportunity to speak with the school administration yet, but look forward to working with them to affect positive change.”