Most people know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month; most people know that because pink is everywhere. Women on TV are wearing pink; there are T-shirts emblazoned with pink ribbons. Even in the sports world, there is pink. Major League Baseball players wore pink wristbands, as did some NFL teams, who also donned pink-edged hats, and in some cases, pink cleats.
Pink was the new Black for October.
But in Mississippi, the Land of Constance McMillen and Homophobia, the message was never received. At least not by Mendenhall High School football coach Chris Peterson.
It seems that asshat and ALLEGED homophobe Peterson kicked one of his players, Coy Sheppard, off the team because Sheppard wanted to wear pink cleats in practice after a game in October when he wore the pink. Sheppard was ridiculed by coaches--which is another way of saying bullied--for wearing the pink cleats in the previous week's game, but he wore them to practice anyway,
And now, Coy Sheppard, a senior who relies on academic credit from playing football to help fulfill graduation requirements, might not receive his diploma on time.
For pink cleats and homophobic coaches.
Now Sheppard has filed a lawsuit against the Simpson County School District, and all the coaches and school officials, rather than admitting they made a stupid mistake over something as inconsequential as the color of shoes, are saying Coy Sheppard was kicked off the team for failing to follow his coaches' instructions, not for the color of the shoes. District official Tom Duncan says, "It had absolutely nothing to do with lack of support for breast cancer awareness."
But the pink cleats have everything to do with Breast Cancer Awareness. They were a gift from Coy Sheppard's great grandmother, a breast cancer survivor, and the cleats were worn to honor her, and his grandmother, also a breast cancer survivor.
Joey Sheppard, Coy's father: "I do understand and we don't condone being disrespectful to the coaches, but he was standing up for what he thought was right." In fact, Joey Sheppard says Coy used "five or six different colored shoes throughout his last two years of kicking for Mendenhall," but it wasn't until he got the pink ones that became an issue.
And, hoping to be reinstated to the team, and ensure that he could graduate with his class, Coy Sheppard tried to apologize, but the coaches gave him the cold shoulder, ending his career because of a pair of shoes.
And before anyone jumps the gun about Coy's lawsuit, all he wants is ti be placed back on the team, and that any monetary damages be given to the American Cancer Society.
But, like in the case of Constance McMillen and her prom, the school district doesn't seem to want to back down. They are backing the coaches all the way. Tom Duncan: "This young man was defiant and I don't know many coaches in the state that wouldn't do the same thing."
And that's the problem.