We may need to create a category on this site for kick-ass activist girls. Recently we had 16-year-old Hunger Games’ star Amandla Stenberg teaching the world about cultural appropriation, and 12-year-old Maddie Messer bringing sexism in game apps into the spotlight. Now, we’ve got the story of 13-year-old Sophie, who wants to teach her peers—and her principal—that “feminist” is not a dirty word.
Sophie is an eighth grader at Clermont Northeastern Middle School in Owensville, Ohio, who had the audacity to wear the t-shirt up top to class picture day. Women You Should Know reports that Sophie was stunned when the class got the photo back, and her shirt had been photoshopped to look like this:
Sophie was perplexed, and so asked the principal why the word “feminist” had been blacked out. According to Sophie’s mom*, Principal Young said, “The photographer called me and brought it to my attention and I made the decision to black it out because some people might find it offensive.”
Sophie’s mom tried to speak to the principal repeatedly, but was ignored. She writes, “Sophie was not violating dress code, she was not inappropriately dressed. Being a feminist is not a bad thing. She should be allowed to express herself.”
Sophie and her friends took to Twitter, and planned to protest her shirt’s censorship by collectively wearing feminist tees to school. (Tweets via Buzzfeed.)
DON'T FORGET EVERYONE! WEAR YOUR SHIRTS TOMORROW AND POST A PICTURE OF YOU WITH THE HASHTAG #IDeserveFreedomOfExpression THANK YOU EVERYONE— SOPHIE (@lamesophie) April 17, 2015
The principal (who in case you were wondering is female) finally returned Sophie’s mom’s calls once the local news contacted the school for a statement. Basically, Principal Young wanted to know how to make this all go away. Sophie’s mom writes:
“I told her she needed to apologize to Sophie and ask her that question. She seemed dumbfounded by that. So she called Sophie down to the office. She apologized to Sophie and asked ‘What do you want from this?’
Sophie replied, ‘I want everyone to realize that we NEED feminism. I want you to have someone come into the school and educate everyone about feminism. I want us to go to the news station together and show the people that we are working together to make this school and our community a better place for everyone. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.’ I was so proud of her. She never once said I want a public apology or anything like that. She just wants to give to others. She is such a great kid.”
*Note: We declined to publish Sophie’s last name as she doesn’t share it on her Twitter account.