A Utah middle schooler with Down syndrome was devastated to find that her school opted to use a picture of her cheer team that she’d been left out of for the yearbook at the end of the year.
NBC News reports that Morgyn Arnold was officially the team’s manager, but that she’d participated in every team practice and learned all their routines, which she’d performed alongside them at every home game.
However, Morgyn came home from her last day of eighth grade saddened and confused to find that the yearbook for Shoreline Junior High School included a picture of the cheer team that excluded her.
“There were two photos: one with Morgyn and one without,” Morgyn’s sister Jordyn Poll wrote on Facebook, according to NBC News. “A choice was made on which photo to submit, a choice made MULTIPLE times and a choice that excluded Morgyn EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.”
“Everyone knows how it feels to be excluded,” Poll wrote. “It’s never a good feeling, so of course Morgyn was bummed.”
“I hope that no one ever has to experience the heartbreak that comes when the person they love comes home from school devastated and shows them that they’re not in the picture with their team. I hope that no one ever has to explain why people deliberately choose to be exclusive,” she also said.
In response, the school wrote in a statement posted to Facebook that Morgyn had not been deliberately excluded and that they sorely regretted that it had happened.
“We are deeply saddened by the mistake that was made,” the school wrote. “We are continuing to look at what has occurred and why it occurred. Apologies have been made to the family and we sincerely apologize to others impacted by this error. We will continue to address it with the parents of the student. We will continue to look at our processes to ensure this does not happen again.”
Poll says that her sister has taken the incident in stride, however, and that she and her family chose to respond with grace rather than resentment.
She said Morgyn is friends with all the girls on the team and is not angry at anyone.
“Morgyn could have chosen to be angry or upset, but instead she chose to be understanding, and forgiving,” she explained. “Those girls on the team are her friends, and they’ve been incredibly supportive through all of this.”
“I think the important thing here is that we focus more on loving one another and being more inclusive,” she continued. “We can all learn from Morgyn in how she handled this with such a positive attitude. … We cannot continue to shame one another when mistakes are made. There is no place for shame in all of this.”
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