A parent is worried they're in the wrong for being upset after their child came home from daycare with a shirt bearing a controversial stance on mask-wearing. Our take? This doesn't make you a Karen.

By Zara Hanawalt
June 03, 2021
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An image of a mother putting a mask on a child.
Credit: Getty Images.

It's no secret that mask-wearing has become something of a divisive issue over the course the pandemic. And for parents, there are multiples layers to the conversation surrounding masks—particularly right now, as we're seeing much of society re-embrace the mask-free life even though kids under 12 can't be vaccinated yet. And one parent isn't on board with a message on masking that appeared on their son's daycare-issued shirt. Now the parent is wondering if they're being "a Karen" over this disapproval.

The parent posted on Reddit explaining that their son is in a summer camp that's being held by the daycare center. "Today my son came home in their provided summer camp shirt," the parent writes. "The front has the daycare's information and phone number in case they get lost, which of course I understand. However, the back of the shirt says, 'Straight Outta Face Masks' in the Straight Out of Compton font/graphic."

The original poster isn't happy about the message—and the reasoning behind this is entirely valid. "The mask mandate [in my area] was just lifted. Though we are still averaging 200-300 positive cases a day and children are unable to be vaccinated," they write. "We have been incredibly careful throughout the pandemic for multiple reasons. I've had an issue with this daycare in the past for not following mask policies. There were multiple positive Covid cases among daycare staff as well."

The poster wants to know: "When it comes to the shirt—I need to know, am I being over sensitive?" And our take? No. This is not an overreaction.

The parent goes on to say everyone she has talked to about the shirt is "shocked"—but the daycare center isn't budging.

"When I called his facility to ask about it the director told me 'What? Its a joke! It's funny!' I said I don't appreciate them making a political statement on the back of my six year old, I think it's inappropriate, and I don't want him wearing it," the parent writes. "I'm uncomfortable that they're normalizing unvaccinated kids not wearing masks even though the CDC recommends it."

Of course, there's another issue with the shirts. "Also, pretty sure that's racist? The premise of Straight Outa Compton is about police brutality, crime, gang activity etc...what exactly are they promoting?" the poster writes.

Again, all these points have total validity—and fellow Reddit users seem to agree. "Some may see this as being a bit uptight, but I see it as good parenting and being a good citizen," one writes. "In my opinion, they really should have foreseen that some parents would have problems with this, and created shirts without the 'joke,' or better still, just not make the idiotic 'joke' at all. I don't use my own kids as banners for my own politics, I'll be damned if I let someone else do it!"

Another user adds: "You are absolutely not being a karen [sic]. I'd be out of there, too. There are so many red flags about this. The biggest one for me is the 'can't you take a joke?' line, which is an all-time favorite gaslighting technique for people with emotionally abusive inclinations."

Our take? Not wanting your child to wear a shirt that makes an insensitive joke about a pandemic that has caused so much death and devastation—particularly when the joke is about taking an action many parents don't feel comfortable with—does not a Karen make. The parent who posted this conundrum added that they're looking for alternate daycare options...and that seems like a great idea.