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A North Carolina high school senior was reportedly denied his diploma for flying a Mexican flag in violation of the school’s dress code.
Ever Lopez, a Mexican American, draped a Mexican flag over his gown at the Asheboro High School graduation ceremony in May and asked the principal to ask him to remove the flag, a video of the ceremony shows.
The student tried, but was unable to remove the flag – and then, according to ABC, was refused his diploma after the ceremonial walk across the stage.
“When I got upstairs, I went to the handshake and thought nothing about it and heard her say, ‘You can’t wear this,'” said Lopez, who graduated from high school first in his immediate family, the outlet said. “And I was shocked and confused. I thought, ‘What?’ She said, ‘The flag. You can’t wear that.’ “
“It means everything to me,” he said on ABC.
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“My parents, my whole family, are from there. I did it for them because they had a tough childhood, they didn’t get the scholarship I got, or they couldn’t go to school like me. So … representing my flag and getting a diploma was very important to me because basically I did it for my family. “
Lopez has not yet received his diploma, reported ABC. He said the school asked him to apologize in order to receive it.
“I don’t know why I should apologize if it should be heard because I didn’t do anything wrong,” Lopez told the outlet.
The incident sparked protests outside a school and 73,000 people signed a petition in support of Lopez.
“Well, it’s crazy. I didn’t expect the whole community to come together like that,” Lopez said, according to ABC.
“I just got kicked out of school. I was kind of down. I was like, ‘Damn, I didn’t get my diploma and all.’ … It’s crazy because the next day I woke up and I had people calling me and saying, ‘Oh man, you have interviews, you have interviews, you have interviews. ” And I’m like, ‘What?’ And what shocked me most, besides the interviews, was the protest at my school because I didn’t know anything about it. “
Meanwhile, the school district said it supports “expressions of their heritage in due course and in an appropriate place” – but insisted that flying the Mexican flag “is against the dress code of the ceremony.”
“We are continuing to work to resolve this issue with the student and his family so that he can get his diploma from Asheboro High School,” he said. in a statement. “He worked very hard and we praise him for this great performance. We are convinced of his abilities and know that he has a bright future ahead of him.”
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“This incident is not about the Mexican flag,” added the school district one more statement. “Students were encouraged to express their identities by decorating their mortar boards. A number of students followed protocol and had the Mexican flag and other displays appropriately displayed during the ceremony.”
To read more from the New York Post, Click here.