A T-shirt that was supposed to build school spirit at Clovis High has morphed into a community downer.
To the annoyance of some parents, the school administration ruled that the image on the shirt – a sideways American flag with red and black stripes – too closely resembles the logo of Blue Lives Matter, a movement formed to support law enforcement after two police officers were shot and killed New York City in 2014 and, by its name, to counter the Black Lives Matter movement. In addition, the district frowns on designs that incorporate revised images of the American flag.
Clovis High administrators ruled that the shirt – designed by students as a school spirit booster – will not be sold after all because it could imply official support of the Blue Lives Matter movement and create division on campus, said Kelly Avants, Clovis Unified spokeswoman.
“They didn’t feel like that’s the role (appearing to support Blue Lives Matter) the administration should play,” Avants said. “They’re trying to build a unified culture.”
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The ruling rankled some parents.
Diane Hibbard and her husband Jeff are parents of two students at Clovis High. She said she saw the T-shirt on Instagram last week and liked it, but when her daughter asked about buying one she was told they aren’t for sale.
They’re trying to build a unified culture.
Kelly Avants, Clovis Unified School District spokeswoman
That’s wrong, Hibbard said.
“The kids who came up with the design – it’s beautiful – they are shut down,” she said. “If you don’t like it, you don’t have to have anything to do with it.”
The Blue Lives Matter logo has a single blue line as one of the stripes of the American flag. The Clovis Unified shirt has the word Cougars, the school mascot, in blue letters between the stripes in a similar fashion.
Hibbard said she and her husband are having identical T-shirts made that they plan to sell on the sidewalk, hopefully in front of the Clovis Police Department, and give the proceeds to the police chief’s foundation.
Outspoken conservative Michael der Manouel Jr. of Fresno tweeted Thursday morning: “The @clovisusd ‘tee shirt’ incident – being terrified of ‘Blue Lives Matter’ about as pathetic as anything I’ve ever seen.”
“I think it’s hypersensitivity that, in fact, is very unhealthy,” he told The Bee. “It gives a veto to small groups of people who claim offense over nothing.”
Avants said the T-shirts were ordered before the design was approved. A change in school leadership delayed the normal review process until it was too late, she said.
If you don’t like it you don’t have to have anything to do with it.
Diane Hibbard, Clovis High parent
There were 50 shirts printed for about $250. A private donor picked up the bill and is getting the shirts, and will likely donate them to a relief organization, she said.
The school will reprint the shirts with an unaltered flag and the “Cougars” wording underneath to be sold at a spirit shirt fundraiser.