Latina sues school that did not allow sash with the flag of Mexico and the United States.


A Colorado high school senior is take legal action against your school district after officials denied her request to wear a sash with an image of the U.S. and Mexican flags to her upcoming graduation.

The district’s decision is a violation of Naomi Villasano’s constitutionally protected right to free expression, according to a lawsuit filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), a Latino civil rights legal organization, and the law firm of attorneys Greenberg Traurig, LLP. .

Noemi Villasano.Daisy Jasmin Estrada Borja

According to the lawsuit involving Garfield County School District 16, Grand Valley High School Principal Kelly McCormick told 18-year-old Villasano that she could not wear the sash despite acknowledging that the school, located in the city of Parachute, did not have a specific written policy on clothing worn in or over the graduation gown.

Garfield County School District Superintendent Jennifer Baugh emailed Villasano and wrote: “The district did not allow flags on the badges because they did not want to open the door for a student wearing a Confederate flag pin or an offending flag. the lawsuit said.

Villasano, daughter of Mexican immigrants, argued before the school board that she is «200 percent, 100% American and 100% Mexican», stating in MALDEF’s press release that «it’s important to me to represent my culture not only to myself but also to my family.»

The lawsuit claims that her right to free speech is denied and asks the defendants to let her wear the sash to her graduation on Saturday.

“We live in an era of increasing threats to the First Amendment in public schools,” said Thomas Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel. “Here, the district has wrongly concluded that it is permissible to discriminate against certain students and their heritage while honoring that of other students; our Constitution does not allow such obvious discrimination.”

The district superintendent, school board members and the principal of Grand Valley High School are listed as defendants in the lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in US District Court for the District of Colorado.

In response to an email from NBC News, Superintendent Baugh said in a statement, «At this time, the District has no comment on the pending litigation.»

Villasano said he is fighting the ban in hopes of bringing about change, “not just for Latinos, but for all future graduates so that no one else has to go through what I have gone through,” according to the statement.

“A graduation is supposed to be a time for celebration, but Garfield County School District 16 is depriving Naomi of the opportunity to celebrate her Mexican-American heritage during one of the most important moments of her life,” said Kenneth Parreno, attorney from MALDEF staff in the press release. “The United States Constitution and Colorado law protect the rights of students to express their heritage, and schools do not get to choose what types of cultural heritage can be celebrated.”

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