Frances Habeck, a sixth grader at Trinity Lutheran School in Racine, Wisconsin, was suspended after her principal publicly accused her of selling “sex toys.” Frances had been learning what life is like for children living with autism and said she was convicted in her heart she should do something to help. She did some research and found that water-filled bags helped children on the autism spectrum cope when they are overwhelmed. “They calm you down when you squeeze them,” Frances said. After sharing with her family what she was planning to do, Frances approached her teacher for permission to sell the sensory bags. Frances’ teacher agreed that it was a good cause and allowed her to raise money for autism and to spread autism awareness, as long as it wasn’t during class time. Everything seemed to be fine.
After about a week of selling the sensory toys out of her locker, Frances was approached by her principal at a basketball game she was playing in. “She was called out in front of other parents, other children, her teammates and her coach. She was publicly shamed for selling sex toys,” father, Milt Habeck, said.
“It was really, really loud and a lot of people could hear it. People were staring at me,” Frances recalled. “I started crying.”
Though there were multiple witnesses, the principal denied this, saying, “We have never asserted that a ‘water snake’ toy was a sex toy.”
“That’s an incredible lie,” Milt Habeck said.
The school’s pastor told Mr. Habeck that the issue was discussed by the school board which unanimously sided with the principal, but Mr. Habeck refuted that he will not stop until he restores honor to his daughter’s name.
According to the statement, Trinity Lutheran School released, “The students were told that no permission can be given for toys to be in school under any circumstance, yet the sales continued. Many of the students have sexualized the toys which has disrupted learning and cannot be ignored. Because of the complaints of the sexual overtones associated with these toys, parents expect that we take action.”
Mr. Habeck simply wants the school board to apologize for punishing his daughter unfairly because of the pressure they were under. “It’s nuts because the principal knows what my daughter did had nothing to do with sex!”
Frances hasn’t been able to focus on school since she was accused and dismissed. “This has gotten me down so badly, my grades are going down and I cry myself to sleep.”
Mr. Habeck claims he had to explain to his daughter what the principal was even saying. “I learned things I probably shouldn’t know,” Frances said. Her father has started a blog to rally public support and protest the school. He’s gathering quite a following by parents who see Frances as like their own children. The parents are united in the claim that nothing should be unfairly attached to a child’s reputation and innocence.