The Arlington Independent School District has banned a high school football team T-shirt with the slogan "Shhhhhhh just let it happen" after the school newspaper's editorial staff questioned whether the message were a rape innuendo.
Martin High School's bi-monthly newspaper The Warrior Post raised concerns about the shirt, designed by senior football team members and printed by the football booster club, in a staff editorial headlined "Out of Bounds" in its most recent edition.
"Can this saying be easily misunderstood? Yes. Though it certainly was not the goal of the shirt, its slogan connotes rape culture. This is not what we want to display as a slogan for our Varsity football program," the editorial read in part.
The shirt reads "Martin Football" in big gray letters above an image of a Native American man that represents the school's Warrior mascot. To the left of the man is a pirate flag, with a skull and crossbones, along with the words "We take what we want," and below the flag is the phrase "Shhhhhhh just let it happen."
The Warrior Post's editor-in-chief Jerred Osterman, 18, a Martin senior, told NBC 5 that the paper's staff was motivated to write its editorial after a female student approached a news staff member with concerns over the T-shirt.
Osterman said neither he nor his staff questions the motivation of the players or their message of team unity behind the shirt — only the wording of the message and how it might be perceived.
"It's inappropriate, and it's not something that you want to represent Martin with," Osterman said.
Both Martin coach Bob Wager and booster club president Kevin White told NBC 5 they never considered the message on the shirt to be potentially inappropriate, saying that if they had, they would have never allowed it to be made or worn. Wager said the shirt's pirate theme denotes the team's mentality of trying to force turnovers.
"Certainly the booster club and the coaches, nobody construed it in that manner," said Leslie Johnston, director of communications for Arlington ISD, who estimates that around 50 of the shirts were printed. "They just thought it was a football shirt. And when that was pointed out, that it could be taken in that way the students have, they are no longer wearing them.
"They would never want to condone any kind of behavior like that," Johnston added.