A Pennsylvania high school student was told he couldn’t continue participating in his graduation ceremony unless he removed his ‘Black Lives Matter’ face mask — and his parents say it was blatant discrimination.
In a Facebook post, John Holmes wrote that his son Dean was prevented from marching in the graduation procession at York Catholic High School in York, Pa., south of Harrisburg, on July 28 and was “discriminated against in plain sight for his race and prior civil rights activism.”
According to Dean, who plans to attend New York University later this year, he wore the same mask during graduation practice and no school officials told him to take it off. However, during the actual ceremony Principal Katie Seufert told him to remove the mask since students were wearing face shields.
“And then they pulled me out of line and they said, ‘Dean, we can get you another mask’ — the issue was definitely the Black Lives Matter on the mask,” he told the York Daily News.
As the procession continued without him, Dean relented and handed the mask over to his principal.
“You only get one high school graduation,” Dean said. “I wish that mine didn’t play out like this.” The teen also referenced other instances where school officials made him “feel less like an individual” in an uncomfortable way, including being discouraged from entering an essay that received a 106 score into a contest.
“The action taken against my son demonstrates that York Catholic High School has miles to go before they can put the ugliness of unconscious bias and racism to sleep,” John Holmes wrote.
According to the school, two students who had received permission prior to the ceremony were allowed to wear masks with no writing on them and school tradition calls for no messages on caps and gowns worn during graduation.
“The graduate mentioned in the statement by the parent did not seek permission to wear a face mask in addition to the face shield, nor was the face mask worn at all during the 45 minutes prior to the processional portion of the ceremony,” the school wrote in a letter sent to parents. “It was not until the last minute, right before entering the church, that the face mask with writing was put on.”
If the administration’s goal was to have Dean remove the mask in order not to cause any controversy — they failed. Instead of letting Dean wear the mask and potentially making a few people uncomfortable they’ve put themselves at the center of a national scandal. Black Lives Matter. Period.