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School Faces Backlash After Cheerleader With Down Syndrome Left Out Of Yearbook

Inclusion is one of those things that should be easy — it's no big secret that everybody likes to be included in fun stuff and recognized for what they do, right? — but in practice, turns out to be much more rare than you'd expect.

Of course, it's not unheard of for kids to exclude each other, and it can be difficult to navigate that as a parent. But as an adult at a school, it really shouldn't be troublesome.

And that's why the parents of one girl startlingly left out are speaking out.

Morgyn Arnold is a 14-year-old junior high school cheerleader.

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She also has Down syndrome. When the cheer team's official photo was released, Morgyn's parents and sister were dismayed to find that Morgyn wasn't included.

Her parents have since shared their thoughts in a now-deleted Facebook post that's gone viral in a big way.

Morgyn attends Shoreline Junior high in Utah.

She was excited to get her yearbook, according to her sister, Jordyn.

"Think back to your school days — yearbook day was so fun and exciting," Jordyn told Today. "Morgyn was so excited to go to school and get her yearbook."

But, when she received her yearbook, Morgyn saw that she wasn't in the cheer team photo.

"She came home from school and was showing us her yearbook," said Jordyn. "She said 'There’s my team and there’s my friends and I’m not included.' She was devastated."

Not only was Morgyn not in the pic, but her name wasn't even mentioned alongside the rest of the squad.

Here's the photo.

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"The first picture you see is a cute junior high cheer team. The second, although similar, includes all members of the team. It’s the SAME cheer team–SAME girls, SAME photo shoot, SAME poses, but one included all team members and one did not," wrote Jordyn in the since-deleted Facebook post.

So, apparently, the team had done one photo with Morgyn, and then a second one without her.

"Unfortunately, the first one was posted on the school’s social accounts and in the school yearbook," Jordyn said.

It was as if all her hard work and contributions had simply been erased, Jordyn added. "She wasn’t included. She spent hours learning dances, showing up to games, and cheering on her school and friends but was left out."

Jordyn also emphasized that the other girls on the cheer squad were not to blame.

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"They are kind and did their very best to include Morgyn and make her feel like she belongs and they continue to do so and continue to reach out and let her know that she is loved," Jordyn told Today. "If it was up to them, they would have included her in the photos."

The school has since apologized.

The school, in its own now-deleted Facebook post, expressed remorse for the omission, although their apology was short on explanations as to why Morgyn would have been so carefully and purposefully excluded.

Jordyn doesn't want people to get cruel. She simply wants to raise awareness.

Jordyn explains to Today, "My hope is that we can learn from this situation and learn from the mistakes that happened, and we can just try a little harder to be a little better."

And continues with, "Being better isn’t about turning around and pointing fingers and causing blame. They’re just as important as Morgyn. We don’t need to forget that in this process. We should be able to raise awareness and fight for what's right without getting cruel."

We can all learn something from Morgyn's example.

Unsplash | Clay Banks

"I think a lot we can learn from her example," says Jordyn. "She’s forgiven them and moved on. She’s sad, when she looks at the pictures. Her example speaks a lot, and she’s excited to continue to find memories and continue cheering."

Let us know what you think of this story in the comments below!

h/t: Today