A Massachusetts school district and museum are apologizing after a photo on Facebook depicting a black child wearing a 17th century-period dress that appeared to have leashes attached went viral.
In a statement, Bridgewater-Raynham Regional School District's superintendent said the photo was taken last Friday when representatives from Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum, visited Mitchell Elementary School to share a lesson on clothing from the 17th century.
Among the clothing students learned about that day was a garment that would have been worn by toddlers to learn how to walk, which included tethering straps, Superintendent Derek Swenson said.
"We realize without this context added to the photo that was shared by the classroom teacher it could be perceived differently," Swenson's statement said.
The district received a complaint about the photo on Wednesday evening, and the photo was shared on Facebook Thursday morning, where it quickly went viral. It has since been shared more than 8,000 times on the social media platform.
It's unclear if the teacher who took the photo will face any discipline.
A Plimoth Plantation spokesperson said it wasn't the educator's intent to be disrespectful.
"Leading strings is a garment that we always show and kids are fascinated by the fact that both boys and girls wore them when they were toddlers and fascinated by the idea of leading strings," a Plimoth Plantation spokesperson said. "We realize that the photography could be perceived differently and we sincerely apologize for that."
Parents expressed their outrage over the photo Thursday afternoon.
"With all that's going on in the world today, with racial tensions, I think that's over the top," parent Steve Alden said.
"I'm appalled and disgusted by it, really," added parent and grandparent Delores Terry.