Mom Fights to Stop Sale of 'Offensive' Down Syndrome-Related T-Shirt
“This shirt is extremely offensive. It is hate speech!” Dana Thomas, the petition’s creator, wrote. “Down syndrome is not anything to survive. It is a beautiful thing.”
Teespring.com is a “user-generated platform,” meaning anyone can design and sell a shirt on it.
“This t-shirt makes my blood boil,” Taylor wrote in her petition. “My baby is not something to ‘survive.’ I often [wonder] how I survived without her. Please help make awareness that this is not OK and should not be sold.”
Thomas, who has a 1-year-old daughter with Down syndrome, contacted TeeSpring about the shirt and says she received this response:
Thank you for providing me with that information and thank you for getting in touch and bringing this matter to our attention. We apologize to those who may be offended by content posted on Teespring.
Teespring is a user-generated platform where people from around the world create various designs to express their views, interests, and opinions on a number of different issues. We strive to maintain a platform for free expression, even in cases where we don’t condone or agree with the views and opinions expressed by our users.
For more information about Teespring’s policies and our content guidelines please visit: http://teespring.com/policies/acceptable-use
Despite this response, Teespring.com’s content guidelines say the company does not allow hate speech:
We do not allow campaigns that promote or glorify hatred toward people based on their age, race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability and religion, including people, organizations or symbols dedicated to hatred against these groups. Additionally, we will not allow campaigns including content that bullies, attacks or threatens specific individuals.
By Monday evening, Thomas’ petition had reached 983 signatures.
Teespring.com has not yet responded to The Mighty’s inquiry.
In October, when Sarah Risko was browsing a different user-generated T-shirt site, SunFrog Shirts, she came across a shirt that read “I freaking hate adults with disabilities.” Risko, who has four learning disabilities and fine/gross motor dysfunction from undergoing chemotherapy as a child, reached out to the company and demanded the shirt be removed. Eventually, she won. A SunFrog Shirts representative responded to The Mighty saying the shirt had been removed and apologizing for the incident.