Officials from the Redlands school district are looking into a photo of the Redlands East Valley High School cheerleading squad which shows members of the team dressed as “gangsters.” 

From KTLA 5:

The picture showed some of the girls had stuffed their shirts to look pregnant, while others flashed gang signs and were holding simulated weapons. Reaction to the photo was mixed.

One parent commented “it’s really sad,” after viewing the photo on Facebook. Another parent thought it was just a harmless joke.

“I think they’re just being teenagers, having fun, being silly,” parent Sherry Garcia said. Classmates who knew some of the students in the photo said they didn’t believe the girls intended any harm, saying they were all nice kids and were not trying to be mean.

Read more at KTLA 5

The district superintendent says she is taking the matter seriously. The squad has since been put on hiatus while the incident is investigated.

In a statement to KTLA, Redlands Unified School District Superintendent Lori Rhodes wrote:

“I find this picture offensive, and this type of depiction will not be tolerated. I apologize that any Redland USD student organization would be involved in an activity of this type.”

The photo was taken during a team-building exercise that was designed to “build team spirit and camaraderie in a positive manner.”

Rhodes said appropriate action will be taken pending the findings of the investigation.

It’s important that people realize just how damaging portraying negative stereotypes really is.

How can we educate our youth on the effects of promoting negative stereotypes that are often associated with people of color?

Sound off below!