Graduation is one of those rare times where people can proudly show their culture and traditions. Graduation isn’t just about the students graduating, but more so about the people that you got there, the values you hold, and your history that opened the doors. From high school to college and graduate school, we love seeing people express pride for their culture on their graduation hats and grad attire. So, it’s bizarre that one school district is banning students from showing such pride on graduation.
The Latta School District in Oklahoma told a Native American high school student that he wasn’t allowed to wear their traditional regalia because it went against the school dress code. What makes this matter even more hurtful is that Tvli Birdshead, who is graduating this year, is being honored by two Native tribes with traditional regalia, which he is now being told he cannot wear.
“Wearing these things is acknowledging that this is the step to higher education,” Birdshead told KFOR news.
The high school senior and his family isn’t taking the news lightly and are fighting back against this discriminatory act.
“It was a flat out no,” his mother Taloa Birdshead said to the local news affiliate.
Some knowledge 💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/QVEB9JxtIW
— Salty Chatah (@NativeHal) April 11, 2019
Birdshead said that wearing the traditional regalia isn’t about vanity or trying to be against the school, but instead because it has deep meaning to him as he is part of five different tribes.
“I informed the superintendent that this is an honor for his academic achievement,” Birdshead told KFOR. “It’s just really upset, my family.”
The native writer Dr. Adrienne Keene tweeted that this is not the first time Native teens have been told no to wearing traditional regalia at graduation.
“These stories happen every year, and I am enraged more and more, ” she tweeted. ” Especially for Oklahoma. Every high school in what is known as the U.S. is on Indigenous land. Let Native students wear their regalia. It’s the bare minimum you can do. #LetTheFeathersFly.”
The Birdshead family has reached out to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for support in the matter. We will update this post on any further development.