Photo by Steven Abraham via Unsplash

A student in North Carolina received his high school diploma after initially being denied for draping a Mexican flag over his graduation gown. 

Asheboro High School became the topic of controversy after rejecting student Ever López, 18, from receiving a diploma at his commencement ceremony because of what the school deemed as a dress code violation

In a statement, the school said they “strongly support our students’ expressions of their heritage in the appropriate time and place.” 

“Our graduation dress code is clearly shared with students ahead of time, and the wearing of a flag of any kind is a violation of the dress code. In the past two years we have allowed students to decorate their mortar boards as a nod to their individuality and creativity. We are very clear with students that this was the ONLY acceptable deviation from the standard cap and gown regalia,” the statement read.

The school will not alter their dress code requirements, they said. 

Discussion began when a video of the event gained traction on Twitter, posted by López;’s cousin with the caption, “My Twitter people make this go viral. Principle “Mrs. Penny Crooks” denied my cousin his diploma for causing a ‘disturbance’ to the graduation ceremony.”

In the video, López is seen walking up to the stage and being stopped by the principal, who talks to López for a period of time before sending him off without a diploma. 

 “The graduate’s diploma was available for pickup as of Friday morning following the graduation ceremony on Thursday night. Our team made multiple attempts to arrange this with the family over the weekend,”  Public Information Officer for Asheboro City Schools Leigh Anna Marbert told Scriberr News. 

López, who comes from a family of Mexican immigrants, claims to only have had the intention of honoring his roots in an act that was not condemned in the graduation dress code. Asheboro High School, on the other hand, said that the diploma was only withheld because of the code violation. 

The attention that the event received led to both a protest outside of the school on Friday and threats of violence made anonymously to officials at the school. Outrage of the discrimination, connected by many to the prevalent racism and lack of consideration towards Latinx people, spread quickly within the community. On Monday, as a response, a press conference was held. 

The conference was coordinated by Siembra NC, a Latinx group that fights for its communities in North Carolina against ICE as well as employers they deem discriminatory and public officials.  There, López and his parents addressed a crowd who had shown up in solidarity, asking Asheboro High School officials to engage in a conversation regarding free speech and race relations. 

Margarita López, mother of Ever, expressed her pride in her son for becoming the first U.S. graduate of their family. She also acknowledged, however, that the denial of the diploma was not just a personal attack on Ever. 

“What happened on Thursday isn’t just about my son, it’s about our entire Latino community. Ever has worked so hard for four years to get this diploma,” Margarita said in a livestream of the conference.  

Following the conference, López and his parents met with Asheboro High School Principal Penny Crooks, who was the administrator that refused to give López his diploma. After the meeting’s conclusion, López came out with his high school diploma. 

 “As with all graduates, we wish him well and we will continue to serve our community in ways that help all young people meet their full potential,” the school said in a statement on their website

López’s cousin will be making no more comments.

Written ByAddison Gallagher

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