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6th Grader's USMC Shirt Too Much for School

7:35 AM, May 23, 2012   |    comments
Administrators at a Mississippi elementary school took offense when a sixth-grader wore this shirt, given to him by his older brother, a Marine. He was asked to turn the shirt inside-out. (courtesy Sandy Griffith via MilitaryTimes.com)
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Ellisville, MS (written by Gina Harkins/Military Times) -- A Mississippi sixth-grader whose grunt brother is deployed to Afghanistan was told by his school's administrators to turn his shirt inside-out because they were offended by its depiction of an anatomically correct USMC bulldog.

Jordan Griffith, 13, of Ellisville, Miss., received the shirt from his older brother, Lance Cpl. Timothy Swann Jr., a member of 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. Swann gave it to his little brother while on his pre-deployment leave.

"Jordan just idolizes Timothy," their mother, Sandy Griffith, told Marine Corps Times. "Timothy gave him the shirt and told him, 'Always remember you're a leader, not a follower.'"

The front of the shirt shows the dog's head and body with the words "If you are not the lead dog." The back shows the dog's rear with the words "The view never changes."

Officials at South Jones Elementary objected to the realistic view of the dogs' genitals and asked the student to turn his shirt inside-out or have his parents bring him a new shirt.

The school's superintendent, Tommy Parker, said the decision had nothing to do with it being a Marine Corps shirt.

"We're very pro-military," Parker said. "We're one of the most conservative places in the United States."

But that may have played a part in upsetting some of the school's teachers, he said, adding "all the details are there" regarding the dog's anatomy, and teachers didn't want to look at it all day or have younger students seeing it.

Sandy Griffith, who rather than bring her son a new shirt instead pulled him from class, said the shirt is no more offensive than the view one has while walking a dog.

"My father made a joke that the woman who told him to turn the shirt inside-out must have been in the Navy," she said.

The shirt's message about leadership is one that kids should think about, she said, especially when men and women are still fighting on behalf of the country.

After leaving the school, Griffith called "The Rush Limbaugh Show," a conservative syndicated radio program. The host seemed surprised to hear this incident had happened in Mississippi.

"Now your kid can't wear a T-shirt given to him by a member of the U.S. military that espouses a positive character trait, leadership?" Limbaugh asked on his show. "... People are fed up. They're fed up with being told what they can't eat, and what they can and can't do in their own yards and in their own homes. It's just not America anymore."

Parker, the superintendent, was dismayed to read the show's transcript.

"It's almost absurd that anyone would accuse us here in Mississippi of being anti-military," he said. "We recite the Pledge of Allegiance every morning. This very school has sent cards and letters to our troops overseas."

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