QUEENS, N.Y. — A Queens high school sophomore who self identifies as bisexual, was sent home Tuesday, after school administrators deemed that the “I enjoy vagina” T-shirt she was wearing was a distraction.
Brianna Demato, 15, said she was hauled into an assistant principal’s office after a dean spotted the message on her shirt during a lunch period. She was given a choice: Change the shirt or go home.
Demato said she refused to submit to school officials’ demands that she change out of the shirt, citing her first amendment rights to free speech were being violated.
According to Demato, she has worn the “Enjoy Coke” styled T-shirt to Newtown High School in Queens, where she is enrolled, at least a dozen times previously. “They use the word in class — why can’t I, on a shirt?” she told the New York Daily News.
She refused to change, so a dean called her mother — but Brianna’s mom, Cathy Demato, took her daughter’s side. She rushed to school to defend her child — and make a point.
“They’re discriminating against Brianna. They pulled her out of class for nothing,” seethed Demato, 39. “She’s not hurting anyone. It’s her right to wear that shirt.”
Demato told administrators her daughter’s vagina shirt should stay — but they disagreed. The irate mom said a dean called school safety agents to escort them off campus. Later, school officials told Demato that if she gave her daughter a different shirt, the girl would be allowed to return to class.
Cathy Demato vowed she’s not going to back down.
“[Wednesday] she’s wearing a shirt that says ‘I’m the B—h From Down the Block,’” her mother said. “The message is, she can wear whatever she wants.”
While Newtown High Principal John Ficalora declined to comment, a spokesperson for New York City Schools, Margie Feinberg said that school officials have the authority to keep the girl out of class for as long as they want, if they disagree with her outfit.
“The language on the shirt was likely to cause disruption and the language is inappropriate for school,” said Feinberg.