Special needs student can't wear varsity letter jacket.

Resolved: That any student should be allowed to wear varsity letter jackets.

Story here.

A special needs student has been told by his school that he is not allowed to wear the letter jacket that his mother purchased for him because although he plays “special needs” basketball, it is not a sport in which one can earn a letter. Therefore, he is not entitled to wear the letter on his jacket. I believe that the school policy is wrong for the following reasons.

  1. Although schools are given a great deal of latitude in determining appropriate dress codes for students, in every case of which I am aware, the clothing objected to was controversial or distracting to other students. In this case, the clothing itself is not being objected to since other students are allowed to wear it.

  2. The clothing was paid for by the parents. Unless it is distracting, it should be allowed. To deny the student the opportunity to wear the letter jacket limits his right to freedom of expression without a legitimate societal benefit. Students having “earned” the letter are not having their rights curtailed.

  3. No one is harmed by allowing the student to wear the jacket. It does not diminish the recognition of those that “earned” their letters. No one will confuse the effort and ability of the special needs student with those of the varsity team.

Unrelated to the reasons above, as a parent, I can’t imagine complaining to the school that a special needs student was wearing a letter jacket that they didn’t “earn”. Shame on them. I’ll refrain from further comment since this isn’t the Pit.

I agree with your logic, but there’s one consideration you left out: the letter is an honor with a long tradition. Just letting anybody wear it diminishes it, just like people wearing military medals they didn’t earn. Of course, the two issues are seperated by a huge difference of degree, but the concept is similar.

That being said, I do believe in free expression, so I don’t think actual disciplinary action should be taken against the student. But he shouldn’t let his feelings get hurt too bad if other kids remind him that he’s not actually a letterman. Of course, given that he’s special needs, the kids will hopefully just let him wear it and keep their thoughts among themselves.

According to the article, his mother bought the letter. It was not awarded by the school.

While I do believe in allowing all students to participate on school teams, I do believe the varsity letter must be earned.

The “honor” of it is diminished far more if it’s worn by some douchebag who won’t let a special needs athlete wear it than if it’s worn by the special needs athlete.

I believe that it is only illegal to represent oneself as a medal winner and not simply wearing the medal. There is also a longstanding tradition of allowing one’s girlfriend to wear one’s jacket. Presumably that would be against the rules as well.

Wow, what a bunch of Jerks.

The letter must be earned. I wouldn’t feel any different if it wasn’t a special-needs individual.

Yes it was purchased by the mother. That’s one of the reasons why that I believe that the student should be allowed to wear it. If I buy clothing for my child and it is not disruptive, the school shouldn’t make my child take it off.

I would, but only a little. It’s hard to think of something less important than whether someone is wearing a varsity letter they didn’t earn.

Here’s a quote from the mother in the linked article:

Should every student get on the academic Honor Roll, as long as they study their hardest, and to the best of their capability?

For the benefit of non-American readers, what is :

-A letter jacket?

-A varsity team?

Do I give a shit if every kid goes out and buys a Nation Honor Society merit badge? No, I do not. If your achievement is not sufficient honor for you, if you have to keep others from looking like they have the same achievement, that’s a moral failing on your part, not theirs.

Eek. Your child has to earn a letter otherwise it is meaningless and you are doing your child a disservice by showing your child that achievements don’t have to be earned but bought by your child’s mommy and daddy.

Nobody should be able to buy honors and awards. Otherwise, they become meaningless.

IMO, no. However, if I go to the store and purchase a T-shirt that says “Honor Roll Student”, I wouldn’t expect the school to make my child take it off.

Varsity team. American high schools typically have several levels of players ranked by skill. Usually a freshman team, junior varsity and varsity. Varsity teams are the “official” school team, the others are development.

Varsity athletes are awarded a letter, a cloth letter(first letter of school name) to sew on a special jacket in school colors. Usually a small patch thatsignifys the sport is included.

I agree and I don’t necessarily agree with the mother’s actions. I disagree with the school’s actions.

The special needs student in question can’t earn the letter since the school does not have athletic teams for special needs students.

I’m betting it feels pretty shitty to be a special education student. You’re segregated away in special classes. You can’t join any of the sports teams. You’ll never be one of the cool kids in the Homecoming Court or in student council. Try as you might, you don’t really fit in. But at LEAST you can show your school spirit by wearing a jacket.

Letters are bullshit. At my school, the performing arts students could get letterman jackets just like the varsity athletes as long as they paid the $75 for it. A letter wasn’t indicative of anything but whose parents had money to waste on a garish status symbol. The same with those shitty rings.

Approximately 20% of the waste shipped off to the landfills in the US every year is comprised of old letterman jackets abandoned right after HS graduation.* Anyone who gets worked up over stuff like this is just as pathetic as that Rob Lowe character in that hilarious DirectTV commercial.

*I made this statistic up. But it sounds about right, doesn’t it?

Yes, a letter jacket is meaningless. I agree.

Where I coach, special needs students can join school teams provided they can do the sport. (Wheelchairs just don’t work well on a muddy grass field or track)

I coach cross-country and track and both teams have a no-cut policy. I don’t know about the other teams.

The coaches award the letters and are free to the students as are the sport pins/patches that go with the letters.