Students hoping to buy pink knitted hats from a Sag Harbor school club will have to purchase the caps outside of school hours, after parents complained the fundraiser promoted a political agenda.
A feminism club at Pierson Middle-High School sold the “cat hats” during lunch hour Monday as part of a fundraiser for an organization that supports victims of domestic violence, according to Laura Perrotti, a Pierson parent and organizer of the club.
Now the club has decided to sell the hats outside of school hours after concerns were voiced by several parents.
The pink knit hats, which are typically crafted to look like cat ears, were worn widely by protesters during the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., and at marches across the country last month. They quickly became a symbol of the demonstrations for women’s rights and equality.
Several parents spoke out against the sale of the hats at the Sag Harbor school, saying it promotes a political viewpoint and shouldn’t be tolerated at a public school.
“I don’t want someone’s agenda pushed on my sixth-grade daughter during school,” said Janice D’Angelo, a parent who contacted the school after learning about the sale on Facebook. “The students deserve to be free from that kind of distraction.”
Scott Rascelles, a father of a sixth-grade girl at Pierson, said he also expressed his concern to school administrators.
“Those hats represent a political statement and they shouldn’t be peddled during school hours,” he said.
But Perrotti said the club “didn’t intend to make a political statement.”
“We’re not a political club,” Perrotti said. “Our mission is to advocate for women’s and minority rights, and this was only meant as a fundraiser.”
The Sag Harbor school district supports the club, Feminists United,
and its mission.
“The students’ objective is to unify through a mission that includes supporting educational programming and fundraising efforts for women’s outreach services,” Superintendent Katy Graves said in a statement. “The district supports the equal rights of all of our students and encourages their freedom of expression through positive actions.”
Since the backlash against the fundraiser began earlier this week, demand for the cat hats has increased, Perrotti said. She estimates the group has sold more than 60 caps.