A Boy Was Bullied for His Homemade T-Shirt. Now the University of Tennessee Is Selling It.


In a state where the Gators, Noles and Canes vie for college football supremacy, an elementary school student in Florida recently showed up to class in a homemade T-shirt design bearing his allegiances to the University of Tennessee — and he was teased because of it.

Now, the boy’s hand-drawn U.T. design can be worn by fellow Volunteer fans clad in orange.

When the university learned of the bullying episode, which was shared by the boy’s teacher, Laura Snyder, in a viral Facebook post, it began offering replicas of the T-shirt for sale at U.T.’s online campus store. “Now you can share in this student’s Volunteer pride by wearing his design on your shirt too,” the store website said.

Proceeds from the shirt’s sale will be donated to the national group Stomp Out Bullying, according to the university, whose online campus store received so much traffic after promoting the shirt, it said, that the website crashed.

A university spokeswoman said Monday that more than 16,000 shirts had been pre-ordered.

Ms. Snyder is a fourth-grade teacher at Altamonte Elementary School in Altamonte Springs, Fla., an Orlando suburb.

In her Facebook post on Wednesday, Ms. Snyder said her students had participated in a college colors day at the school a week earlier. The boy, whom she did not name, didn’t have a Tennessee shirt, so she told him he could make his own.

“So when the day finally arrived, he was SO EXCITED to show me his shirt,” Ms. Snyder wrote. “I was impressed that he took it one step further to make his own label.”

“After lunch, he came back to my room, put his head on his desk and was crying,” she continued. “Some girls at the lunch table next to his (who didn’t even participate in college colors day) had made fun of his sign that he had attached to his shirt. He was DEVASTATED.”

Ms. Snyder said she planned to get the student a U.T. shirt, and asked if anyone had a connection to the university.

“I wanted to make it a little extra special for him,” she said.

“I know kids can be cruel,” she wrote, adding, “I am aware that it’s not the fanciest sign, BUT this kid used the resources he had available to him to participate in a spirit day (one that I celebrated all week: Go Noles)!”



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