BREAUX BRIDGE, La. (KLFY) — A T-shirt is a hot topic in St. Martin Parish schools, but is it a celebration, a political message, or both? On Wednesday, as the country inaugurated a new president and vice-president, some teachers who wore a T-shirt with “Chucks & Pearls” on it to school were told to cover it, change, or go home.
It happened at Breaux Bridge High. About a dozen teachers and staff wore the shirt or something similar to it on inauguration day. It wasn’t until about lunchtime at Breaux Bridge High School teachers heard they were doing something wrong.
By the end of the day, teachers across the St. Martin School District were being told the shirt with Chuck Taylor shoes and pearls was a political statement that doesn’t belong in the classroom.
The superintendent of St. Martin Schools, Al Blanchard, released a statement saying, “The Board maintains a policy that prohibits employees from wearing clothing, pins or other items supporting candidates or political messages.”
Breaux Bridge High School teacher Joy Trahan believes her clothes Wednesday didn’t fall under that category.
“It says ‘Chucks & Pearls’ only. No 2021. No nothing. Not even in the colors of a party,” Trahan argued.
You may have seen the fashion statement of Wearing Chucks shoes and pearls this week. The two pieces of clothing are often worn by Vice-President Kamala Harris. She even wore pearls to her inauguration Wednesday, a moment several women watched proudly celebrating in their own way.
“It wasn’t political. It was an empowerment of women,” Trahan said. “This was a historical moment if anything, not political, and we teach history. That’s social studies, so I don’t see how they want to twist and turn that to political.”
Superintendent Al Blanchard said, “Neither myself nor the board intends to suppress nor promote any candidate or political philosophy,” admitting he’s had to enforce the policy on both sides.
To Trahan, this wasn’t supposed to be a moment about sides. To her, it was a moment about unity apart from any political affiliation.
“It didn’t matter who the woman would have been. Every woman should have been happy about it, and whether it was ‘Chucks & Pearls’ or a different slogan for different women, I don’t see what the issue is,” Trahan added. “It was brought up as political by them not us, so it’s like it’s what they want to view it as basically. It’s their mind view, their perspective that just took it the wrong way.”
Trahan said her fellow educator friends in other parishes did not have the same experience as her and were told nothing about what they wore.
News 10 did ask St. Martin Parish School District Superintendent for an in-person interview. He declined, providing a statement instead.