Melinda Jackson, the mother of a sixth-grade girl who died over the weekend after a four-year battle with cancer, is understandably devastated. But driving home Monday, the Michigan mother heard the school her daughter attended had banned T-shirts honoring her daughter.
"That hurt me to the point that I didn't think I could be hurt anymore," Jackson told the Battle Creek Enquirer.
After complaints from students and parents about the T-shirt ban, which stemmed from a school policy banning student memorials, the school said it would allow th shirts. (Image source: WWMT-TV)
Students at Lakeview Middle School in Battle Creek, Mich., wore blue and orange shirts to honor Caitlyn Jackson who died Saturday from leukemia. Blue was Jackson's favorite color. Orange is color associated with leukemia awareness. Some of the shirts bore Caitlyn's name.
But administrators had decided Sunday to not allow the attire at school, but they didn't pass the message onto parents. Students showing up Monday wearing T-shirts in memorial of their classmate were asked to turn them inside out or to put tape over Caitlyn's name. This decision was later reversed.
"They said that they really liked the shirts, but that it just triggered too much emotion for someone who was really close to her," 13-year-old student Alyssa Jaynes told the newspaper.
Students with Caitlyn's name on their shirts were initially asked to turn it inside out. (Image source: WWMT-TV)
"It made feel really bad that I couldn't express myself for Caitlyn," 11-year-old Jaidyn Bellinger, a student who said she received a lunchtime detention for the shirt, according to the Enquirer. "I wanted to let people know how bad it feels to lose someone like that."
Students were allowed to make cards for the family, and students wearing blue and orange shirts without Caitlyn's name on them weren't asked to change, said Amy Jones, the school's finance director. Students who were asked to turn their shirts inside-out were told to keep Caitlyn's name "close to their heart."
Watch Caitlyn's mother and students talk about the controversial decision:
After viral backlash to the decision though, the school lifted the ban Tuesday.
"Certainly the intent of our decision was good," Jones said. "Probably the ramifications of our decision caused more disruption than if we had let kids wear the shirts in the first place."
In a statement, the school said it would be reviewing its crisis management plan in light of this recent controversy.
Caitlyn's father, Jeff Jackson, choked up in an interview with WWMT, saying "everything changes, we were coming home without our daughter...it changes everything."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.