OAK PARK (STMW) — Eight hundred students and staff at a west suburban high school wore T-shirts bearing the word “RESPECT” on Friday to show solidarity in reaction to an online list ranking 50 girls’ appearance and sexuality.

The black T-shirts were sold out in one day at Oak Park-River Forest High School. They also feature a quotation by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Principal Nate Rouse explained the initiative in an announcement to students and a letter posted on the school’s website Thursday.

“Tomorrow, we will join as a school community in a gesture of support for the 50 girls who were directly hurt by the list — but also as a first step in a sustained school-wide effort to recommit ourselves to being and doing better in every aspect of our respect and care for each other.”

The list which, distributed in school and via Facebook on Jan. 14, named the girls and included sexually explicit descriptions as well as racial and ethnic slurs.

Rouse said the list’s author has been banned from the building and the disciplinary process is under way. He also said Oak Park police have opened an investigation.

Starting next week, he said, the school will begin a plan to address issues of respect and accountability.

“In the meantime, we are providing a few quick resources that our counselors and resource managers have found to be helpful in raising and discussing with teens a multitude of issues concerning demeaning, hateful and stereotyping behavior and language of all kinds,” he said.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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