NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. Six middle school boys who were banned from a class portrait for refusing to cover up their pink T-shirts have gained the support of fashionable “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest.
Ensign Middle School Principal Edward Wong pulled the boys from their eighth-grade class portrait on March 18, saying he feared the color was associated with “dance crews,” which hold all-night dance contests and raves and can develop into gangs.
The boys denied being crew members and said they wore the shirts, which students described as “Easter pink,” to stand out in the photo.
More than 400 of the 1,000 seventh- and eighth-graders at the upscale school wore pink to class the following day in support of the teens. Many said they would wear pink again tomorrow.
“It’s dumb,” said Luis Solis, 13, one of the boys who was barred from the photo. “How come we can’t wear pink? We didn’t do nothing.”
Seacrest, who also hosts the TV show “On-Air with Ryan Seacrest” and the radio countdown “American Top 40,” said March 23 that he got involved because a student was quoted in a local newspaper as saying pink was popular among teens because Seacrest often wore it.
He fielded calls on the pink ban on his KIIS-FM morning radio show, also called “On-Air with Ryan Seacrest.” He declared this week “Think Pink Week” and asked listeners to wear pink tomorrow.
“I’m standing up and saying it’s OK to stand out because I am the ‘Pink Piper,’ ” Seacrest told a caller.
Wong, the school principal, declined comment on March 23.
But Jane Garland, spokeswoman for the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, said the six students were also wearing black shoes, pink-and-black armbands and pink socks.
“The color pink itself is not a problem with us. We like the color pink,” she said. “But pink and black together ... are known to be party crew colors. It’s how they are worn.”
Garland said crews can be precursors to gangs. Students who wear certain color combinations are carefully watched by administrators, she said.
“Schools are to react to protect our children. We are pleased with how this was handled,” she said.
Seacrest, who sent an “On-Air” staff member to the school March 22 with a pink KIIS-FM T-shirt, said that “pink is in for spring.”
“Many high school and middle school dances this season are pink-themed,” he said in a prepared statement read to the Associated Press by his assistant. “I believe there’s nothing wrong with a boy or girl wanting to wear pink.”
Students at Ensign said pink was gaining popularity among boys because it was a bright color that helped them stand out and appealed to girls.
They said dance crews and gangs weren’t a problem at their school and called the T-shirt ban an example of adult paranoia.
“What if one day four or five kids came to school with the same color T-shirt? Are they going to make them take off the shirt?” said Bryan Luna, 14, who sported layered blue and black T-shirts, blue-and-black armbands and black jeans.
“It wasn’t right they should get to wear whatever.”