Marshon Sanders, a high school student in Highland Park, Illinois, was removed from class and ordered to change out of his Halloween costume after some in the school complained it was offensive.
Sanders, an African-American, was dressed as Jesus.
“I wanted to be Jesus because I just got baptized and so I felt like, why not?” Sanders told FOX 32 News. “He’s the most influential person in my life.”
Fifteen minutes into his first class, Sanders was called to the dean’s office and “[s]he tells me that my costume was offensive and I was promoting religion.”
Before the school day ended, however, the Highland Park released a statement saying that “initially [we] were concerned that the costume could be offensive to religious sensibilities [but] upon further review, we realize the student did not intend to be offensive.”
Sanders was allowed to put the costume back on. A school spokeswoman, Melinda Vajdic, said the costume could be construed as offensive because people might think Sanders was “poking fun [at] a religious stereotype.”
Vajdic insisted the costume violated the school’s costume policy, which states that costumes that “could be offensive or perpetuate a stereotype of someone’s culture, gender, sexual orientation, heritage or religion are not permitted.”
She declined to explain how an African-American student dressed as Jesus would offend “someone’s culture, gender, sexual orientation, heritage or religion.”
“When I asked her what she meant by offensive, she couldn’t tell me,” Angenetta Frison, Sanders’s mother said. “He’s walking around dressed like Jesus, a religious icon. What’s offensive about that?”
“I saw other kids who were dressed as Moses and they were just walking around there fine,” she continued. “I talked to them and they were questioned, but they were never brought down to the dean.”
Scott Eric Kaufman is the proprietor of the AV Club's Internet Film School and, in addition to Raw Story, also writes for Lawyers, Guns & Money. He earned a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine in 2008.
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