CRESTVIEW — During his Monday tour through Crestview, Congressman Matt Gaetz, R-1st, met with sixth-graders at Shoal River Middle School to give them a brief civics lesson.

 

And at least one young girl learned about her First Amendment right.

After meeting with students, Gaetz took a selfie with the audience and quickly shared it to his Facebook page. Kids were smiling and waving their hands — and one young lady in the front was clearly extending her middle finger.

To the congressman, it's just another day in politics.

"It's certain to occur again," Gaetz said with a laugh.

The mother of the girl commented on the photo — which had 500 shares at this writing — saying she was very sorry about the photo and would "deal with her daughter."

"Political views aside, this is completely unacceptable. Mr. Gates (sic), I apologize on behalf of my daughter," she wrote. "I am very sorry this occurred."

Dozens of commenters said the girl was simply exercising her First Amendment rights. Gaetz replied back saying he had a lovely time with the students.

"As a middle school student I'm sure I had plenty of lapses in judgment that were far more severe than this one," Gaetz said Tuesday afternoon. "We've all been middle schoolers, we all know what the wonder years are like. I don't know if she would choose that particular method in the future, but I'm not really someone who criticizes how they express themselves."

Gaetz said he has no intention of taking the photo down. In fact, the photo is a good teaching moment, he said.

"You never know what's going to happen on Open Gaetz Day," he said, referring to the name of his district tours.