Jack Englund dressed as Trojan Man for “character day” at Dr. Phillips High School on Tuesday, wearing a red cape and a blue poster board decorated to look like a condom wrapper.
The senior said he was simply trying to bring a safe-sex message to his classmates. But school officials were not amused. His first-period teacher sent him to the office, where a dean made him remove the costume.
But Jack, a 17-year-old tuba player in the school’s performing-arts magnet, said he didn’t consider the costume inappropriate.
Jack Englund was told to take off this costume at Dr. Phillips High.
“I don’t see how my piece of cardboard and cape are any more distracting” than costumes such as Mario, Luigi and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles worn by other students, he said. Students dress up during Spirit Week activities that precede homecoming.
The principal did not respond to a request for comment, but district spokeswoman Kathy Marsh said school officials may prevent students from wearing anything that may “cause an undue disruption to the normal order of classroom business.” Sexual wording and graphics are also banned under the student dress code.
Friend and fellow band member Jordan Behler, 17, said the costume was a lighthearted way to react to the serious issue of casual sex among their peers.
“I didn’t think they were going to do anything about it,” he said.
Jack’s mother, Sandy Pfau Englund, a lawyer, said the school’s reaction was over the top.
“These are high-school students going to college next year,” Englund said. “Let’s be realistic. They watch a lot of things on Netflix that are a lot more out there than the word ‘Trojan’ on a poster.”
Although she and her son think his free-speech rights were violated, they have no plans to sue.
“All I want is an apology,” Jack said.