The student argued in court that the school district's decision to prevent her from wearing the sash infringed on her freedom of speech
A Colorado high school student won’t be able to wear her Mexican and American flag sash at graduation on Saturday, a judge ruled on Friday, according to several news outlets.
Naomi Peña Villasano sued her school district after they rejected her decision to wear the sash — which depicts the Mexican flag on one side and the American flag on the other, presenting her heritage.
While the court considered her claim, she filed for a temporary restraining order so that she would be able to wear the sash for her graduation ceremony, according to the Associated Press.
Villasano argued in court that by banning her from wearing the sash at graduation, the school district infringed on her rights to freedom of speech. She also argued that the rules were inconsistent, as the district allowed graduates to wear Native American or Pacific Islander regalia but not her sash.
“The district is discriminating against the expression of different cultural heritages,” said her attorney Kenneth Parreno, from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, at Friday’s hearing, per the AP.
However, the attorney representing the school district, Holly Ortiz, argued in court that allowing Villasano to wear the sash could open “the door to offensive material.”
Colorado District Judge Nina Y. Wang sided with the school district, according to the outlet. She reportedly noted in her decision that the graduation fell under school-sponsored speech, and thus “the School District is permitted to restrict that speech as it sees fit in the interest of the kind of graduation it would like to hold.”
"While Naomi may prefer to wear the sash during the graduation ceremony, the Court respectfully agrees with the School District and concludes that Naomi will not suffer irreparable injury by having to express her culture in a form other than the sash,” Wang also wrote, according to CNN.
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This isn’t the only conflict that has risen over graduation dress code this year. Last week, a transgender girl in Mississippi did not participate in her high school graduation after school officials told her that she had to wear boy’s clothes instead of a dress and heels under her graduation gown, according to The Guardian.
The student and her parents filed a federal lawsuit against the Harrison County School District and filed a motion to get the district to allow her to wear what she wanted, which was eventually denied by a district judge.
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