Utah teen with Down syndrome devastated to be left out of cheer team photo
A Utah woman speaks up after her sister was excluded from the yearbook photos of her middle school cheerleading team.
Eighth grader Morgyn Arnold, who has Down syndrome, came home from the last day of school feeling exhausted and wondering why she wasn't in the Shoreline Junior High School cheerleading team photo, older sister Jordyn Poll said.
14-year-old Morgyn was officially the team manager but attended training, learned routines and cheered along with her other teammates at every home game, her sister said.
The Shoreline Junior High cheerleading team sat down for two photos for the yearbook: one featured Morgyn, a purple t-shirt in the middle, and a big grin; it was not in the other.
The photo used in Shoreline Junior High School's 2020-2021 yearbook excluded member Morgyn Arnold. (Shoreline Junior High / via Jordyn Poll)
Morgyn was devastated to learn that the yearbook included the photo she was not in and that that version was used in several other school and promotional materials, her sister said.
"Everyone knows what it feels like to be left out," said Jordyn Poll. "It's never a good feeling, so naturally Morgyn was depressed."
"I hope no one ever experiences the heartbreak that comes when the person they love comes out of school devastated and shows them that they are out of the picture with their team. I hope no one ever does explain why people "Make a conscious choice to be exclusive," wrote Jordyn Poll (25) on Facebook. "There were two photos: one with Morgyn and one without. A selection was made as to which photo should be submitted, a selection was made MULTIPLE and a selection that Morgyn excluded EVERYONE. ONCE. ONCE."
The Shoreline Jr. High School cheerleading team reportedly removed a student with Down syndrome from the yearbook version of a team photo. (Shoreline Junior High / via Jordyn Poll)
Shoreline Junior High School called the photo selection a mistake.
"We are deeply saddened by the mistake that was made," said the school on Facebook. “We continue to investigate what happened and why it happened. We apologized to the family and we sincerely apologize to others who have been affected by this mistake. We will continue to discuss with the student's parents. Take a look at our processes to make sure this doesn't happen again. "
Jordyn Poll says her family don't believe the decision to leave Morgyn out was malicious or discriminatory, and they have nothing but love for their teammates and their families.
"Morgyn could have chosen to be angry or upset, but instead chose to be understanding and forgiving," said Poll. "These girls on the team are their friends and they have been incredibly supportive in all of this."
Morgyn and her family will meet with school administrators to discuss the situation and advocate for students with disabilities, Poll said.
"I think the most important thing here is that we focus more on loving each other and being more inclusive," she said. "We can all learn from Morgyn how she dealt with such a positive attitude. ... We cannot continue to shame one another when mistakes are made. There is no room for shame in any of this."
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