In what is being called a "mistake," by the school, Morgyn Arnold, a 14-year old with Down syndrome at Shoreline Junior High School, was left out of the yearbook picture of the cheerleading squad. Her sister, Jordyn Poll, told local Fox 13 Utah that her sister was "devastated," but also stressed that she did not blame the other cheerleaders.
As the local Fox affiliate reported:
"She was devastated," Poll told FOX 13. "Those girls were so kind to her during the year. Those girls on the squad were her friends — they ARE her friends... For her to not be included when all was said and done was devastating."
But Poll wants everyone to know that her sister's fellow cheerleaders are not to blame at all.
"They, throughout the entire year, did such a great job of including her and helping her and making her feel loved," she said. "These girls were nothing but kind. These girls were nothing but inclusive."
There were two photos taken of the cheerleading squad, one of which features Morgyn in the middle, and one where she is completely left out. The. latter ended up being chosen for the yearbook.
The school has issued a passive nopology.— David M. Perry (@Lollardfish) June 16, 2021
"We are deeply saddened by the mistake that was made that omitted a student photo out of the yearbook. Apologies have been made to the family and we sincerely apologize to all others impacted by this error."https://t.co/y11J440z8q
This kind of thing happens all the time. I can't count the number of times our son has been excluded, or nearly excluded, from events and pictures and related social activities in his 8 years of school. I know this fury.— David M. Perry (@Lollardfish) June 16, 2021
Because whoever did this ... it's not the first time their bigotry has excluded. It just might be the first time they did it with photography.— David M. Perry (@Lollardfish) June 16, 2021
I don't see a single picture of a visibly disabled child on their instagram. I did notice one child who might have been a Latina amidst all the white people.— David M. Perry (@Lollardfish) June 16, 2021
"When a child with disabilities is kept out of an activity, not only will it hurt them (and their families), but the typical children internalize this segregation as necessary. They will carry that lesson forward."— David M. Perry (@Lollardfish) June 16, 2021
So that's what you're teaching.
As Morgyn’s mother said, this happened to her twice. How much better would the yearbook have been if the cheerleaders could have been reminded of the kindnesses they showed to Morgyn? Much.— James Kolan (@James_in_Perth) June 17, 2021
In other words, a "mistake" indeed, and not a very good look for the school.
The school issued an apology, though it is no longer publicly available on its Facebook. This was shared by the local outlet:
"We are deeply saddened by the mistake that was made that omitted a student photo out of the yearbook. Apologies have been made to the family and we sincerely apologize to all others impacted by this error. We are continuing to look at what has occurred, and to improve our practice."
While Jordyn shared "my heart was broken for her to experience this kind of exclusion," she is also urging forgiveness, which is out of Morgyn's playbook. As Fox 13 also reported:
"My family is choosing to follow Morgyn's example of forgiving... of loving those girls still and just learning from this experience so that we can be better," she said, "that we can move forward and we can learn to be a better advocate — Not only for Morgyn, but for those other students at that school and in our communities."
Jordyn's public Facebook posts on the matter include a link to the local Fox News feature piece as well as posts emphasizing kindness and making abundantly clear that the issue is not with Morgyn's fellow cheerleaders.
Jordyn also shared a post on Thursday which served as a press release on behalf of the parents at the junior high school, emphasizing the same points and stressing that the cheerleaders were not involved in the decision making process to select the picture which excluded their classmate.