Latina sues school that didn’t allow US Mexican flag sash
A Colorado high school senior is taking legal action against her school district after officials denied her request to wear a sash with an image of the US and Mexican flags on her upcoming graduation.
According to a lawsuit filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), a Latin American civil rights organization, and the law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP, the county’s decision violated Naomi Villasano’s constitutionally protected right to free speech.
Naomi Villasano.Daisy Jasmine Estrada Borja
According to the lawsuit, in which Garfield County School District 16 is involved, Grand Valley High School principal Kelly McCormick told 18-year-old Villasano that she could not wear the sash, although she admitted that the school was in town Parachute no sash has specific written policy for insignia worn on or over the graduation gown.
Garfield County School District Superintendent Jennifer Baugh then emailed Villasano, writing, “The district did not allow flags on regalia because it would cause offense to a student wearing a Confederate flag pin or flag. didn’t want to open the door. ‘ the lawsuit says.
Villasano, the daughter of Mexican immigrants, argued before the school board that she was “200 percent–100 percent American and 100 percent Mexican,” and explained in the MALDEF press release that “it’s important to me, my culture not just to represent myself, but for my family.”
The lawsuit alleges that she is being denied the right to freedom of expression and is asking the defendants to allow her to wear the sash at her graduation ceremony on Saturday.
“We live at a time of increasing First Amendment threats in public schools,” said Thomas Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel. “Here the district erroneously concluded that it is permissible to discriminate against certain students and their origins while honoring those of other students; Our constitution does not allow such blatant discrimination.”
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in the US District Court for the District of Colorado, lists the district superintendent, members of the school board and the principal of Grand Valley High School as defendants.
Responding to an email from NBC News, Superintendent Baugh said in a statement, “The county currently has no comment on the pending litigation.”
Villasano said she is fighting the ban in hopes of bringing about change, “not just for Latinos, but for all future graduates, so no one else has to go through what I went through,” the statement said.
“Graduation should be a moment of celebration, but Garfield County School District 16 deprives Naomi of the opportunity to celebrate her Mexican-American heritage at one of the most important moments of her life,” Kenneth Parreno, an attorney with MALDEF, said in the release. “The United States Constitution and Colorado law protect the right of students to express their heritage, and schools do not have a choice about the types of cultural heritage to be celebrated.”