A judge ruled that a school district could bar a student from wearing a Mexican and American flag sash at graduation — but she did it anyway
- A judge ruled that a school district could ban a student from wearing a flag sash at graduation.
- Naomi Peña Villasano attempted to sue Garfield County School District 16, citing free speech.
A Colorado high school student has defied a court ruling on wearing a Mexican and American flag sash at graduation.
A federal judge had ruled that a local school district could bar a student from wearing the flag sash at her high school graduation, the Associated Press reported.
Naomi Peña Villasano had tried to sue Garfield County School District 16, with her attorneys saying their ban on her sash violated free speech and unfairly prevented her from representing her culture.
But Nina Y. Wang, the judge presiding over the case, argued that the act of wearing a sash during a graduation event was school-sponsored speech, not private speech.
"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," Wang wrote, per AP.
In a Change.org petition, Peña Villasano wrote that "my high school administration and superintendent have said "no" twice. However, there are NO WRITTEN policies that state otherwise. I will not allow my culture, heritage, and nationality to be shut down from being represented."
"I'm a 200 percenter — 100% American and 100% Mexican," she told a recent school board meeting in Colorado's rural Western Slope, per AP.
According to The Colorado Sun, Peña Villasano graduated on Saturday, wearing her sash despite the ruling.
With the sash initially covered by her graduation gown, Peña Villasano climbed the stage to collect her diploma. The 18-year-old student proudly unveiled her controversial sash just before it was her turn.
"I was nervous. I'm not going to lie. I was super nervous about what everyone's reaction would be, but just like my senior quote, 'Always stand up for what you believe in,' I feel like that just overpowers everything," Peña Villasano said after her graduation, per Colorado Public Radio.
Peña Villasano acknowledged that her free-speech fight took away from her graduation but said, "I had to focus on standing up for my rights for the past month instead of celebrating my upcoming graduation," per The Colorado Sun.
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