CRESTVIEW, Fla. (FOX 13) - The mother of a first-year middle-schooler was shocked to see a photo, posted on Facebook, of her 12-year-old daughter making an obscene gesture earlier this week.
The now-viral photo was a selfie taken by a Florida congressional representative at Shoal River Middle School. Young Madison -- and her gesture -- were front and center.
The picture’s caption implied Congressman Matt Gaetz missed what happened right behind him, with a sea of other students holding up their hands, making funny faces, dabbing, and mimicking dance moves.
But Angela could only see one student: Her daughter.
Angela told FOX 13 News a coworker was the first person to show her the photo. At the time, the post only had a handful of shares and comments. But within hours, the photo was shared thousands of times and the comment section stretched on for pages.
Thanks to Facebook’s top comments feature, one comment rose to the top of the thread.
“As the mother of the little girl very disrespectfully flipping the 'bird', I will be dealing with her at home tonight! I absolutely have raised her better than this, and I promise this will NEVER happen again!” Angela wrote. “Political views aside, this is completely unacceptable. Mr. Gaetz, I apologize on behalf of my daughter. I am very sorry this occurred.”
Angela hoped her words would resonate with Gaetz and other users, who chimed in saying, “That kid should be suspended !!!” and “A parent of the young lady in front of the girl in pink should have a few choice words with her at home.”
Angela says she raises Madison to speak her mind, but the action she took in the photo was inexcusable.
“We have rules and we do enforce them,” Angela said. “I raised her to always speak her mind, but she’s grounded for multiple things at the moment.”
Angela added Madison received a few days of in-school suspension, as well.
Gaetz himself responded to Angela’s comment, saying, “Her congressman has also had an occasional lapse of judgment as a middle schooler. Teaching moments like this are a good thing. I had a lovely time with the students.”
Gaetz was not the only one to offer Angela words of encouragement, although his were probably the only ones she was concerned with.
One commenter said, “I can not decide what is funnier, the kid in the pic or the comments! Kudo's to the mother for her sincere comments! Great Mom!”
Another said, “This is a mother that is going to hold her child accountable for her actions. Good job Angela Marie. That’s one of many things lacking these days. Accountability! Maybe everyone should listen and learn!!”
Angela says she believes her daughter has learned many lessons from the experience.
“I’m not going to say I’m proud of her for this but I am impressed with her for making her own expression,” Angela said. “I’m comfortable with where we are.”
Gaetz was at Shoal River Middle School for what he termed #OpenGaetz Day. The Republican represents part of the Florida Panhandle in the House of Representatives.
We reached out to him for a comment, but haven’t heard back.
Time to visit some 6th graders at Shoal River Middle School pic.twitter.com/cSDPbHAh1Y— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) May 1, 2018