“BEAT TP” T-Shirt Ban Reversed
Students will not be disciplined for wearing popular t-shirts to school events
Principal Kyle Ruggles confirmed on Tuesday that he planned to reverse his previous decision banning “BEAT TP” shirts.
Dr. Ruggles originally announced on November 7, prior to the annual Beach Bowl football game, that any “BEAT TP” attire would no longer be permitted at athletic events versus district rival Torrey Pines High School. Students who wore the shirts to the football game were asked to change into a different shirt.
Dr. Ruggles now states that students who choose to wear the popular shirts to the home basketball game versus Torrey Pines this Friday will be admitted to the event.
“If students want to wear [‘BEAT TP’ shirts] to the game, they can wear them to the game,” Dr. Ruggles said. “I will have discussions with them about it, but I’m not going to make them go back to change out of it.”
Although Dr. Ruggles is permitting students to wear the “BEAT TP” shirts, there will still be restrictions in place.
“If there are shirts that say ‘I Wipe With TP,’ then students will not be allowed in,” Dr. Ruggles said.
However, in a previous interview, attorney advocate Adam Goldstein from the Student Press Law Center stated that the administration does not have the authority to restrict even the “We Wipe Our Butts w/TP” shirts.
“That’s still illegal,” Goldstein said. “State law says that you’re allowed to wear any shirts on school grounds or at school events that would be legal to wear off school grounds. I don’t like references to people’s bathroom habits, and I think it’s gross. But is it illegal to wear it? No.”
Dr. Ruggles also expressed that “any sort of references to ‘FTP’ will not be tolerated. Even if people think it’s ‘Forget the Past,’ we all know what people think it stands for.”
“Forget the Past” or “FTP” shirts originated as a way to encourage players and fans to forget a previous long history of football defeats versus Torrey Pines. Eventually, administrators discouraged the shirts as unsportsmanlike. But state law would likely also protect a student’s right to wear even the “FTP” shirts.
Schools can only restrict speech and clothing that “so incites” students as to “create a clear and present danger” that students will violate the law or “lawful school regulations” on school grounds, or that cause “substantial disruption” of school operations, according to Ca. Ed. Code Section 48907(a).
In reversing his decision, Dr. Ruggles acknowledged that the decision he made in November to ban the shirts was unpopular, even though he holds to his vision of improving student conduct at sporting events.
“There’s a lot of people that would disagree with everything that I’ve said about the ‘BEAT TP’ thing and I get that,” Dr. Ruggles said. “The original vision and meaning I had for doing away with the ‘BEAT TP’ has become more divisive.”
Senior and ASB President Bridget Grubb planned to wear her “BEAT TP” shirt to the basketball game on Friday regardless of the ban.
“It’s a tradition,” Grubb said. “I’m very against the banning, and it makes me very frustrated because I feel like my free expression is being violated.”
Although Grubb recognizes the need for sportsmanship, she questioned whether a shirt would affect student behavior.
“I understand Dr. Ruggles’ reasoning and I think our sportsmanship definitely needs to improve,” Grubb said. “But I don’t think wearing a specific shirt is going to change that.”
In an interview prior to the ban being lifted, Junior Class Vice President Andre Sanavi argued that the administration does not have the ability to restrict students’ right to free expression.
“They’re trying to take something away from us that they have no right to take away,” Sanavi said. “Drag me out of here if you want to not see me. They’re going to realize once everyone is wearing [‘Beat TP’ shirts] that we are a lot stronger than they think we are.”
Dr. Ruggles encourages students to participate in the “white out” game versus Torrey Pines by wearing white clothing, but some “white out” traditions will not be allowed.
“No white powder in the gym,” Dr. Ruggles said. “That will be an immediate cancellation of the game because that poses a safety [hazard].”
Dr. Ruggles stated that he will be working with Torrey Pines Principal David Jaffe to emphasize the importance of honorable student behavior.
“Mr. Jaffe and I both have the agreement that if we need to, we’ll stop the game for a little bit and make a public announcement about behavior among the students,” Dr. Ruggles said. “It’s about our school and school spirit being viewed in a positive light.”
Friday’s game will be televised live at 7 p.m. on Time Warner Cable, channel 825 (TW101) or channel 411 (TW101HD).