A high school senior in Massachusetts has been suspended from the school cheerleading team because of a controversial tweet she sent out about illegal immigration.
Caley Godino, a senior student and head cheerleader at Revere High School in Revere, Massachusetts, said she was disciplined by school authorities for a tweet about illegal immigration that some have called racially insensitive, the Revere Journal reports.
Godino said she was on a school field trip on Nov. 4, the day after the City Election in Revere, when she and other students received a tweet from their civics teacher asking them what they thought about the fact that only 10 percent of the city's population voted in the election.
Godino tweeted back with her opinion about the cause of the low voter turnout, "Only 10 percent of revere votes for mayor cause the other 90 percent isn't legal."
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After the tweet went viral on the Internet, the teen received a flood of negative comments as well as threats of physical harm. Although she deleted the post, the threats continued.
One Twitter user said they were going to wait for Godino's bus to get back from the field trip, and some members of the Revere High soccer team said they were going to get their crew and come after the teen.
Other tweeters cursed at her in Spanish and English, and some talked about whether it was possible to be "racist to a white person."
Godino told the Revere Journal that the threatening tweets were from students at her own school as well as some from nearby high schools in Everett and Chelsea.
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In addition to the negative response online, the teen said she also faced harsh punishment from school authorities for the tweet.
Godino said school administrators initially told her that they wanted her to undergo cultural sensitivity training, but that nothing else would happen to her because the First Amendment protected her right to free speech.
A day later, however, the school reportedly backtracked on their decision and put Godino on "social probation," meaning that she would be temporarily suspended from the cheerleading team and banned from attending school events. Although the probation was originally supposed to be in place until Jan. 25, the teen and her mother, Lauren, successfully appealed the punishment so that it ended in early December instead.
The teen's mother told the Revere Journal that the school decided to punish her daughter because of the intense backlash she received from other students at the school.
"I asked [school officials] what happened and they said that the kids were just so upset by this that they had to make them happy," said Lauren. "What about my daughter?"
District superintendent Dianne Kelly told My Fox Boston that Godino was not being disciplined solely for the tweet, but she declined to go into more detail because of student privacy laws.
"I would just say that, not everything you read is a full story of what's happening," she said.
She added that, although the district believed in a student's right to free speech, it would not tolerate culturally insensitive language.
"If you're going to stand up and say something that other people will find offensive, then you need to be prepare to deal with the ramifications of that," Kelly told My Fox Boston.
Godino claims that she was simply commenting on a hot-button political issue, not making a racial statement.
She also said that the students who threatened her were not disciplined by school administration.
"Some of the kids from the soccer team who actually threatened me with their Tweets had a state tournament soccer game the day I showed their threats to the school and they still played," she told the Revere Journal.
About 31.2 percent of Revere's population was born outside of the U.S. and about 43.9 percent speak a language other than English at home, according to data reported by the U.S. Census Bureau between 2009 and 2013.