Teacher shames young hunter at NE OH school: "Killing animals is not what we do"

The Medina (OH) Gazette is reporting that a nine year-old first-year apprentice-licensed hunter, whose 2016 Youth Hunt resulted in the harvest of a mature 8 point buck, was later shamed and embarrassed by her teacher at school.

From the article:

Domonique Yatsko harvested her first deer on the last day of youth deer-gun weekend in November. It was an eight-point buck.

To celebrate, a picture taken of the 9-year-old and the deer was put on a black sweatshirt. Heidi Yatsko told The Gazette on Thursday that her daughter proudly wore the sweatshirt to school the next day.

“She was very proud when she took her first deer,” the mother said.

But when Domonique came home from school, Heidi said, she threw the sweatshirt in the garbage. Domonique told her mother she was “yelled at” by her teacher and told to take off the sweatshirt because “killing animals is not what we do.”

“She was ashamed and belittled in front of everyone in the classroom,” Heidi said. “She didn’t know what to think; she was so upset.”

According to the article, despite the fact that hunting apparel, including camouflage and images of animals, does not violate the school's dress code, Domonique was taken out in the hallway at Hinckley (Twp.) Elementary School and told to remove her sweatshirt because it was "upsetting."

News of the incident was originally published by OutdoorNews.com. That publication learned of the incident after Mrs. Yatsko contacted the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, who then passed the story along.

Mrs. Yatsko told reporters she contacted teacher Hannah Copa, Principal James Carpenter and Superintendent Catherine Aukerman about the situation, hoping to get an apology for a perfectly legal activity enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of Ohioans. None was forthcoming.

“The principal’s quote to me was ‘we don’t have dead animals in school,’” Heidi told OutdoorNews.com. “So, I asked her what they serve in the cafeteria?”

Sadly, the experience has not only taken away from the joy had about her first hunt, but it has also hurt her emotionally and deterred her from wanting to hunt again.

“She did a very good job and she was very excited,” Heidi said.

Since the incident at school, the mother said Domonique hasn’t been her normal self.

“I think it hurt her more internally,” Heidi said. “The person she grew up to be and the family she’s surrounded by was told it’s wrong.”

Going hunting now, Heidi said, is a work in progress.

“We have finally gotten her to where she will go back out,” Heidi said. “We’re trying to bring the joy back to go out hunting and be in the tree stand.”

Since OutdoorNews.com broke the story, various blogs and at least one conservative talk show host have picked up on the story. Several are providing contact information for those interested in contacting the teacher, the principal, and/or the superintendent to urge that the teacher and principal issue a public, written apology to Domonique.

[UPDATE: I've just been made aware that, on January 5, 2017, Highland Local Schools issued the following statement:

While the Highland Local School District respects the rich tradition of hunting that so many of our students and families share in Medina County, we are also aware that not every family hunts and not all children have been exposed to those types of images.

Approximately six weeks ago (on November 21), several children expressed concern to their teacher over an image on a shirt worn by a classmate. The teacher then took the student in the hall and quietly asked her to take the shirt off. The student complied.

Following a phone call from the student's mother, an apology was issued almost immediately to the student and her family by the teacher, principal and superintendent.

Based upon this new information, the article has been updated to remove the (still publicly available) contact information for the teacher, principal, superintendent and board of education.]

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary, BFA PAC Vice Chairman, and an NRA-certified firearms instructor. He is the editor of BuckeyeFirearms.org, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website.

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