We’ve made an effort as a community to be more inclusive and empathetic by thinking about ideas and events that are potentially triggering for those around us.
But unfortunately, some have begun to abuse that term as a new bullying method, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
After being attacked by a dog as a child, Redditor Sorry_not_sorry1lol was left with scars on her face and arms, and she was learning to love and accept them by not covering them up.
But when one of her peers accused her of triggering them with her scars, the Original Poster (OP) at a loss for what to do.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for telling someone that I don’t care about their TW (Trigger Warning)?”
The OP was trying to be more accepting of her own body after an attack.
“I (15 Female) am receiving punishment at school for telling another kid that I don’t really care if my scars trigger them.”
“I was attacked by a dog when I was 7 and now have scars on my arm and face. I used to cover up by wearing hoodies and masks because I was insecure.”
“Recently I have started wearing fewer hoodies and more tank tops and t-shirts.”
But a peer at school was not so accepting.
“Yesterday at school some rando at my school came up to me and told me, ‘You should cover up, your scars really trigger me.'”
“I immediately got upset, which I guess he could tell due to my facial expression (I guess I was smiling a lot because nobody seemed to care about my scars).”
“I told him that I wasn’t going to cover up just because my scars trigger him, and if he doesn’t want to see them, then maybe he should not to look at me.”
The situation escalated from there.
“He left, but today I was called into the office. The principal said I would be receiving an in-school suspension for this week due to ‘making your peers and staff uncomfortable with your physical appearance.'”
“I don’t know if my principal is actually allowed to suspend me for this and I feel super insecure again…”
“AITA for telling the kid I wasn’t going to cover up?”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some were disgusted by how the OP was treated at her school.
“NTA. I cannot believe this is real. Your PRINCIPAL said that your physical appearance is making people uncomfortable?”
“That’s incredibly insensitive and discriminatory.”
“You have a right to express yourself however you want (of course in this case, within the confines of your school’s rules), and your appearance should be of nobody else’s concern. Yes, it’s unfortunate that your scars might trigger that person, but you’re not the a-hole for simply existing with this physical trait.”
“It’s not up to you to cover up for someone else’s needs unless you are willing to accommodate their mental health issues.” – Maxterchief99
“I’m hopping on to point out that not only did the principal say that OP’s physical appearance was making people uncomfortable, but ALSO tried to punish OP for it with in-school suspension?!? I’m disgusted.” – fbeezgethoney
“I feel like if they get a lawyer OP could have a huge settlement on her hands from the district. Discrimination at its finest.” – Angelgirl127
“This is especially troubling since it’s something she has no control over? It’s one thing if OP was wearing an extremely controversial shirt that went against the school dress code.”
“But physical scars she got from a traumatizing experience? That’s not something she chose to have done to her.”
“My mom taught me that you should never comment on a person’s appearance, especially if it’s something they can’t fix in 5 minutes. And even then, it would only be like if their tag was sticking out, or they had something on their face or shirt from lunch. And you should only say it in a kind, tactful way that wouldn’t embarrass them in front of everyone.”
“I’d go to the school board. That principal shouldn’t be influencing kids if that was his response.” – Extension_Emu_6106
“Like I truly want to fight this OP’s principal, like a proper teardown at a school board meeting. Instead of wasting time on alarmist nonsense, THIS is the sort of equity, diversity, and inclusion issues that school boards SHOULD be tackling proactively.”
“How is that person even allowed to be in charge of a school? Outrageous.” – lobsterp0t
“Have you seen/heard the way schools get on when they see a nipple outline under clothing? Nothing shocks me when it comes to schools and trying to make rules about students’ bodies. It’s terrible, but totally believable.”
“If I was OP, I’d probably start a social media s**t storm, blast the crap outta that s**tty principle.”
“Telling someone to cover scars is not ok, I’d say on par with telling someone to put a bag on their head because their ugly face is distracting.”
“Actually I’d probably use that as a comeback if I was told to cover an injury like that, like, ‘Sure, I’ll cover my scars as soon as you cover your ugly face,’ lol (laughing out loud). I’m not recommending that route unless you want a suspension, though.” – vicki_chicki
“I’m proud of you and your parents. You are not in the wrong here. I get that he may have issues with scars, and sure you were not “nice” to him, but being suspended? That’s wayyy out of line.”
“Think of it this way. In all likelihood, the principal has done something like this before, he’s going to do it again. Previous students maybe didn’t say anything thinking because he’s the principal, he’s in the right, or maybe their parents didn’t care enough to fight it. You and your parents are in the right though.”
“I get that people have triggers, but expecting people to change their appearance over something that isn’t their fault is a them problem. They need therapy and coping mechanisms, it isn’t your job to make someone else comfortable because of something you cannot control about yourself.”
“What if someone was bothered by a burn victim’s scars? Or an amputee’s missing limb? Or if it was someone missing an eye? Would it be ok to tell them they can’t dress how they want to just because an aspect of their appearance bothers someone else?”
“Fight this, they are wrong. I’m sorry you are going through this and being treated this way. It’s not OK. You are beautiful, you are valid, you should be able to exist in this world without the burden of having to make everyone around you happy.” – Ezada
Others were empathetic and shared their similar stories.
“I had a kid threaten to bring a knife to school just to kill me when me was in the 5th grade. Nothing was done about the principle who laughed it off as a kid just being a kid. School board did nothing about the situation either.”
“Mom pulled me from that school district and homeschooled me and my 3 sisters for 3 years until we moved to a different town and I was able to rejoin when I was a freshman in HS. I still love to learn thanks to those 3 years.” – aspen_silence
“This exact thing happened to me in highschool. I was told I wasn’t allowed to wear shorts and tank tops in a hot Canadian summer because my scars were showing. I told my principal, you drop this right now as it’s a violation of my human rights or I’ll be going to the press about this as well as suing. He shut his mouth real fast.” – pastel–mattel
“HOLY F**K, NTA.”
“Also, I highly suspect the rando was using ‘trigger’ as a replacement for ‘I just don’t want to look at them’ which… f**k ’em.”
“I have had incidences where I was triggered by somebody’s scars. I was in a housefire as a child. I lost my home, all my pets, countless sentimental belongings, and I am eternally grateful that all of my human family escaped unscathed.”
“It was a very traumatic event in my life. And recently, there was a woman at a therapy group I attended who had severe burn scars on one half of her body. Every time I saw her, all I could think about was being trapped in a burning building helpless and screaming with half my body on fire.”
“It was triggering AF. You know what I said to her? I said, ‘Hey, great to see you again, I hope you had a good week,’ gave her a big smile, and strategically picked my seat to be on the same side of the room as she was.”
“Because holy F**K, how can you look at someone who has clearly been through immense physical and emotional trauma, and have the NERVE to say ‘I find your pain offensive to look at, please try to suffer in a less unattractive way’.” – Nimindir
After seeing the initial comments, the OP decided to tell her parents.
“I have told both my mom and my dad and they are p**sed.”
“They will be going to the school board in the morning, and I will probably be posting an update tomorrow after my parents’ school board meeting.”
The OP had one more update after that to share.
“So, my parents just got back from their meeting. To make a long story short, the principal probably will get fired, the kid that told me to cover up is being punished, and we aren’t suing, lol (laughing out loud).”
The subReddit was absolutely disgusted by the way the OP had been treated by her peers and principal, and they were grateful her parents had her back. Hopefully, the school board would have her back, as well, so further issues of discrimination and ableism would not occur.