Elementary school student in hot water over cancer awareness garb

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BELLEVILLE, Ill. – An elementary school student in Belleville is told to cover the words on his shirt, which honor his grandmother's cancer fight.

A sweatshirt with the phrase “Hakuna Matata” was found to be offensive by Roosevelt Elementary staff in Belleville. Twelve-year-old Blake Coil wore the sweatshirt to support who has stage four cancer.

“It means ‘no worries,’ so my mom doesn’t have worries over this fight with breast cancer,” said Christie Coil, Blake’s mother.

They took the phrase from Disney's “The Lion King.” The Coils had no idea Blake would be told his shirt was offensive and to cover it up.

“They said it was inappropriate for school,” Blake said.

Roosevelt Principal Craig Hayes said the word "tata" on Blake’s shirt is slang for breast. He believed it could cause issues with elementary school students.

Christie Coil said her son just wanted to raise awareness about breast cancer and his grandmother’s fight.

Principal Hayes said Blake is a good kid and that he’s done a nice job at getting the word out about his grandma.

“I got a call yesterday saying they support him but they don’t support the shirt,” Christie said.

She said if the phrase can appear in a kids’ movie then it should be allowed on a t-shirt in a public school.

For now, Christie said Blake will continue to wear his shirt and sweatshirt supporting his grandmother but feels Roosevelt Elementary should change their opinion of the phrase.

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