Colorado teen mocks school politics, wears US-Mexico flag sash to graduate

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A Colorado student who was barred from wearing a sash depicting the U.S. and Mexican flags at her high school graduation did so anyway, partially covering it with another sash depicting her involvement in a service organization.

“Always stand up for what you believe in,” Naomi Peña Villasano, a graduate of Grand Valley High School, told the Glenwood Springs, Colo. Post Independent, after receiving her diploma Saturday in the west-central Colorado town of Parachute.

The Peña Villasano case is the latest dispute in the US over what type of cultural graduation attire is allowed at graduation ceremonies.

Peña Villasano challenged school officials in court after they said she would be barred from attending graduation ceremonies if she wore the sash that has stars and stripes on one side and a cactus, eagle, and snake to represent the Mexican flag. on the other side.

A federal judge had ruled Friday that the school district could prohibit Pena Villasano from wearing the sash at graduation.

However, with his flag sash partly covered with a gold Key Club International, no one tried to stop Peña Villasano from walking across the stage to receive his diploma.

School officials have said the policy of not allowing individual sash at graduation was “to protect symbolic traditions that represent graduates' academic achievement and community service. Each stole, cord, or pin worn over the graduate's gown symbolizes academic honors, school-sponsored activities, and military enlistment," the school said in a statement.

The district says it will reconsider its graduation band policies before the Class of 2024 graduates next spring.

Similar disputes developed in the US during graduation season.

A transgender girl skipped graduation at her Mississippi high school this year after she was banned from wearing a dress to the ceremony. In Oklahoma, a Native American graduate sued a school district this month for removing a feather, a sacred religious object, from her cap before her graduation ceremony in 2022.

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