When two photos of Utah’s Shoreline Junior High Cheerleading Team emerged online, they instantly appeared nearly identical. All of the girls featured in the images had rocked blue/white uniforms and matching pom-poms in their hands while smiling at the camera.
However, there was a difference between the photos, and it has since emerged into an outrage online. In a photo, the team manager, a 14-year-old with Down syndrome, was included, but in the other one made into a yearbook, she wasn’t included, implying she was cut out.
Morgyn Arnold with Down Syndrome (pictured in the middle) was cut out of her cheerleading yearbook photo.
Morgyn Arnold is the victim. In an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, Morgyn’s sister Jordyn Poll claimed Morgyn had been left devastated to find that she wasn’t in the yearbook photo with her cheer team. Similarly, her dad, Jeff Arnold, told BuzzFeed News that the family isn’t interested in placing blame but that the experience had been difficult for his daughter.
So @shorelinejrhigh has a young woman with Down syndrome on the cheer squad. They took a team photo with her in it. Sent her away. Then took another photo to use for their publicity.
Take a look. Same photo shoot. Same time. Entirely deliberate. pic.twitter.com/ndr2gK2zqZ
— David M. Perry (@Lollardfish) June 16, 2021
The action has sparked an outrage online while Morgyn has also been left devastated.
Jeff admitted that bringing home the yearbook was the highlight of her school year, so she didn’t want to look at it anymore when she discovered she was left out of the photo. “I said Morgyn, how are you okay? How do you feel? She said, I’m sad, but those are my friends.” Jeff stated. He shared that he hopes Morgyn’s situation starts more conversations about inclusion and not just for people with special needs.
He continued: “We’re all unique and special in our aspect. How do we ensure that we’re more mindful of everybody? I know there were other people besides Morgyn who experienced the same thing because they reached out to us. But their kids aren’t any less important than Morgyn just because people have rallied around her. I think that this is just a reminder that being mindful and intentional of everybody is what’s important. And when we can’t, how do we be better?”
Here’re the photos, can you spot the difference:
It remains unclear who requested to leave Morgyn out of the photo and why. But according to the Davis School Spokesperson, Shauna Lund, the school district has apologized to Morgyn’s family and is taking steps to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. Their statement to BuzzFeed News reads: “Apologies have been made to the family, and we sincerely apologize to others impacted by this error. We will continue to address it with the parents of the student. We will continue to look at our process to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”