MOM: My Child’s School Banned ‘Pray for Peace’ Shirts for Being ‘Too Political’

A Virginia school district told athletes they couldn’t wear pre-game shirts advocating peace in Ukraine, claiming peace is “political,” Clare Levison told the Todd Starnes Show.

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The following is a rush transcript from The Todd Starnes Radio Show. Listen to the program live Monday – Friday from 12 p.m. until 3 p.m. Click here to listen to the full interview.

Is "Pray for Peace" too political for schools?

TODD STARNES: [01:21:48] We told you about a a high school girl’s lacrosse team that was trying to do something really moving, and instead of being praised and saluted for wearing these T-shirts that said, pray for peace with the Ukraine flag, these young ladies found themselves in the middle of a culture war battle. But I want to go to the Patriot Mobile Newsmaker Line because the mom who exposed all of this on her Facebook page, Clare Levison joins us. Clare, we are so glad that you’re on the program today. [01:22:22][33.5]

CLARE LEVISON: [01:22:23] Thanks for having me, Todd, and thanks for being the first one to draw national attention to this utterly baffling situation. [01:22:29][5.7]

STARNES: [01:22:30] Clare, it’s you know, when I first saw the story, and I cover a lot of religious liberty stories, so I’m like, OK, they they got upset with prayer, but then I found out that was not all they were upset with. [01:22:42][11.8]

LEVISON: [01:22:43] No, because we like you thought the same thing. This is about the pray part, and because the point of the shirt was to support the girls lacrosse coach who actually spent 10 summers volunteering in Ukrainian orphanages. And just to support the concept of peace in general, regardless of religious or political affiliation, I emailed the administration and asked if we changed the shirts to say play for peace, could the girls then wear them in warm ups? [01:23:14][31.0]

STARNES: [01:23:16] And what was the what was the response from the school district? [01:23:18][2.7]

LEVISON: [01:23:19] Well, the response was, no, because it wasn’t the religious aspect. Once that was eliminated, it was the fact that peace is political. And I just have to tell you, I was speechless at that answer. I’m still speechless, honestly. Metaphorically speaking, of course. Luckily, I still have quite a few actual words left about that. [01:23:41][21.6]

STARNES: [01:23:42] You know, Clare, when you step back from this, this is part of an ongoing national debate over whether or not everybody does in fact have their own truth, because it seems as though that was the standard that was applied here. Your superintendent basically saying, well, the Ukrainians have their truth. The Russians have their truth. Who are we to decide one way or the other? [01:24:03][21.0]

LEVISON: [01:24:04] I think you’re spot on with the fact that what’s really taking place here is a rejection of universal truth, and peace is always preferential to war. I think that’s something we can all agree on. Peace is preferential to war is universal truth, and I think that’s why I’m so fired up over this issue, because someone has to be willing to stand up for universal truth. [01:24:29][24.8]

STARNES: [01:24:31] You know, I thought you really did a terrific job of explaining in reality what the administration was saying. When you went back, and I want you to share with our listeners what you wrote with regard to, you know, the 1940s, World War II and some of the other horrific moments in world history. [01:24:45][14.8]

LEVISON: [01:24:47] Absolutely. Well, let me start by quoting the interim superintendent when she defended her stance that peace is political. She actually said, and I quote, “What is the peace from? A war, and a war is rooted in what? It’s a political war, from people who have differing views.” So my response to that was, and I know you know what it was as you said was, could someone please let the Jews know that Hitler just had a different view than they had? Could someone please let the Buddhists know that Pol Pot just had a different view than they had? And can someone please let the Russians who were sent to the gulags know that Stalin just had a different view than they had? And now I can say, Todd, now that we have President Biden for the first time yesterday referring to what’s taking place in Ukraine as genocide. Can someone please let the Ukrainians know that Putin just has a different view than they have? It truly defies all logic. [01:25:45][58.0]

STARNES: [01:25:45] Clare, I’m curious, folks around Blacksburg, what are they saying? What are you hearing from other parents and the other team members? [01:25:52][6.5]

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LEVISON: [01:25:53] Well, that’s something that I really do take comfort in. Our local news station did a story on this, and they launched an online poll, and they asked viewers if they thought peace was political. And 98 percent of respondents said they did not think peace was political. So, the interim superintendent and the school board need to know that they are in the two percent on this one. [01:26:18][24.4]

STARNES: [01:26:19] Well, and they also need to understand that there is another war coming and that’s what happened in Loudon County. And I suspect a lot of moms and dads are going to be pushing back at the next school board elections. [01:26:31][12.3]

LEVISON: [01:26:33] Well, and I hope this issue continues to draw national attention as well. And whatever you can do to help me with that, I’d be so grateful for, because people do need to know what’s going on in schools and with this one, it’s just completely beyond the pale. [01:26:48][15.7]

STARNES: [01:26:50] Well, it is. And I’m glad that, you know, again, these young ladies on this team, and they just seem like great students, it’s good for them to see someone like you taking a stand in public and saying, Hey, look, this is right. This is wrong. But you know, we’ve got to do something about this. [01:27:07][17.7]

LEVISON: [01:27:08] Yeah, because really what they were doing was just a simple act of kindness to support their coach and to support peace. But I have to tell you, since you wrote about this, we are turning absurdity into action. That’s the best part. And people can now go to my website, which is inspiredresponsibility.com, and they can order the Pray for peace T-shirt or just make a donation. And all of the proceeds will go to Friends of Ukraine, which is an organization the coach worked with personally when she volunteered there. [01:27:44][35.6]

STARNES: [01:27:45] It’s just an all around great story, and this coach seems like a wonderful mentor and somebody who’s literally pouring her life experiences into these young ladies, the kind of person you would want your child coached by. [01:27:59][14.3]

LEVISON: [01:28:01] Absolutely. And that’s what’s also problematic about this story is that it’s sort of being made out that the coach strong armed the girls into supporting peace. I mean, that’s just ludicrous. Good grief. [01:28:13][12.4]

STARNES: [01:28:17] You know, Clare, we were having a chat about this story before the program. Who would have thought that, you know again, who would have thought that you have a superintendent who says, OK, you cannot necessarily support democracy? I mean, you’ve got the other side waging genocide. I think we’re a pretty safe siding with the Ukrainians here. [01:28:37][20.6]

LEVISON: [01:28:38] Yeah, definitely. And the other thing is that when you’re on the side of universal truth, you don’t have to attempt a spin, like the administration and the school board has attempted. They’ve used words like misinformation and personnel matters. I feel like we’re on the side of universal truth here. And when you’re on that side, all you have to do is open your mouth and tell the story. [01:29:03][24.6]

STARNES: [01:29:04] Clare Levinson is on the Patriot Mobile Newsmaker Line. She is a mom in Blacksburg, Virginia. The high school there, the girls lacrosse team told they could not wear T- shirts during warmups that simply said, Pray for Peace, along with the Ukrainian flag. And Clare, I understand there was there was an incident or something at the library too there on the campus. [01:29:27][22.9]

LEVISON: [01:29:28] That’s right. So after the girls were told they couldn’t wear their shirts, they saw a display in the library that said, stand for peace, stand with Ukraine, and so they said, hey, why is that OK? They say that’s OK, but our shirts are wrong. So instead of saying, oh yeah, actually, they’re both fine. The administration said neither one of them could be up, and they were quoted in the Rhino Times saying that the display did not meet the standard, specifically the standards related to being fair and unbiased. So apparently the stand for peace stand for Ukraine display in the library did not meet the standards related to being fair and unbiased. [01:30:18][50.6]

STARNES: [01:30:20] Alright. Clare, I want to make sure Grace gets that web address, and we’ll post that folks on our live show blog, so you’ll have a direct link to Claire’s website here. Where do we stand now with all of this? [01:30:36][16.0]

LEVISON: [01:30:37] Well, I’m hoping that the school board and the administration will still change their mind. They did issue a new statement on Monday that in part said that this was considered staff led activism. Again, no one is strong arming girls into being rogue, peace activists. I mean, it just, again, is not in line with common sense, but it’s never too late for the administration and the school board to get in line with universal truth and universal common sense, and I’m hoping they’ll do that. And again, I hope the issue continues to get national attention. And most of all, I hope that we can raise some money to save lives of people in Ukraine. [01:31:21][43.8]

STARNES: [01:31:22] I’m with you, Clare, and I think we can certainly help in that effort. And also, I want you to let me know in case any of the girls or any of the teachers get in trouble. I want you to let us know, and we’re not going to leave anybody hanging and we’ll be happy to fight that fight along with them. [01:31:36][14.8]

LEVISON: [01:31:38] Well, thank you so much, Todd. I really, really appreciate it. [01:31:40][2.8]