GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA-TV) – Some students and parents at Wade Hampton High School were upset, Tuesday, after a text went out to seniors saying religious and political quotes were “too controversial” to be used as their senior quote for the yearbook.
The news sparked outrage on social media, namely from students wishing to use bible verses, who felt their right to free speech was “violated.”
7 News talked to Greenville County School Director of Communications, Beth Brotherton, who said the incident was a “misunderstanding.”
A group of 8 to 10 quotes deemed “cryptic” were pulled by yearbook staff and taken to an assistant principal.
Brotherton said the administrator told the student staff they should review quotes that could be deemed religiously, politically or ethnically offensive.
“Unfortunately a text message went out to a large group of people that made it sound more like a ban or an administration policy. When, in fact, we just want to make sure we’re taking a close look at all of the quotes that are going to be in the yearbook to make sure that nobody feels harassed, that nobody feels bullied and nobody feels uncomfortable by anything that’s said,” said Brotherton.
She said Bible verses and politically-inclined posts would be allowed as senior quotes.
“I want to make it very clear that none of these quotes that were pulled or questioned – the 8 to 10 – are bible verses. All bible verses have been allowed in the past and will be allowed again this year,” said Brotherton. “We are in no way trying to step on our students freedom of speech, freedom of religion…we want them….this is the forum for them to be able to express themselves.”
Wednesday, Wade Hampton High School Principal, Eric Williams, released the following message to his students and parents:
“Seniors, I apologize for the miscommunication regarding yearbook quotes. Some of you have been understandably upset at the idea of the administration instituting a ban that would inhibit your first amendment rights. This was not my intention. Please be assured that senior quotes will be printed as submitted, unless they reflect bullying, appear to promote drugs or alcohol, or in some other way violate the Behavior Code or other school rules. I do not believe the few quotes of this nature that were received by the yearbook staff represent the Attributes of a General that we all work hard to portray to our fellow students and community. We will speak individually with those seniors who submitted questionable quotes, asking for clarifications and revisions. Unless Mrs. Grieve or I speak with you directly, your quote will be printed in the yearbook as it was written. If you have any questions or concerns, please come see me.”