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A controversy over kids wearing T-shirts to celebrate their friend who died from leukemia has sparked anger and soul-searching in Battle Creek, Michigan. On Saturday, sixth-grader Caitlyn Jackson passed away after a three-year battle with the disease. More than a dozen classmates showed up at Lakeville Middle School on Monday wearing orange and blue t-shirts bearing Caitlyn's name, many of which had been decorated by the kids themselves over the weekend. Blue was the 12-year-old's favorite color, and orange is the color designated to promote leukemia awareness. Upon arrival, the students were informed that they would need to either turn the shirts inside out, cover the girl's name with duct tape, or change tops—a decision made by school administrators.
Monday afternoon, Melinda Jackson, Caitlyn's mother, heard that the T-shirts had been barred from school while she was on her way home from the hospital where the girl had died. She told the Battle Creek Enquirer, "That hurt me to the point that I didn't think I could be hurt anymore." Many parents and students were outraged by the decision. "It made me feel really bad that I couldn't express myself for Caitlyn," said Jaidyn Bellinger, an 11-year-old classmate. "I wanted to let people know how bad it feels to lose someone like that." Some parents demanded the resignations of those administrators who had called for the T-shirt ban. That night, after speaking with Caitlyn's family, the school reversed their decision and said that the students could wear the shirts the next day.