California Teen Denied Feather at Graduation

Sherrill Fulghum By Sherrill Fulghum, 3rd Jun 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>News>Politics

The US Supreme Court allows the wearing of a headscarf but a high school teen can't wear his eagle feather in his cap at graduation???

Eagle Feather

Seven years ago a then 17 year old woman filed a suit against clothier Abercrombie & Fitch for denying her the right to wear her hijab – headscarf. She claimed the Oklahoma franchise of the clothing line denied her employment due to said hijab. It has taken seven years but earlier this week the United States Supreme Court ruled that Abercrombie & Fitch had no right to do so and has sided with the woman's complaint.

Now a California high school student is having to file suit against the school district so that he can wear an eagle feather along with the tassel on his graduation cap.

Christian Titman is a member of the Pt River Nation who believe that the eagle feather is a sacred and symbols of acomplishment. Titman received this particular feather from his fahter and wanted to include it in his graduation costume when he receives his diploma from Clovis High School in Clovis, California; a town near Fresno, California.

The teen feels that his constitutional and freedom of expression rights are being violated by the school district denying the sacred talisman. Titman sees the wearing of the feather as a way to mark the accomplishment of graduating from high school and honouring his Native roots.

American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Novella Coleman said, “the district's refusal to allow a small symbol of religious expression during the graduation ceremony is a misunderstanding of both the spirit and the letter of the law. The implication that an eagle feather with religious significance is unacceptable or disruptive signals a deep disrespect from the district."

Noting that the school district has a strict graduation dres code, School Superintendent Janet Young said, the district has a strict graduation dress code intended to show "respect for the formality of the graduation ceremony, unity of the graduating class, and also to avoid disruption of the graduation ceremonies that would likely occur if students were allowed to alter or add on to their graduation cap and gown." Young also noted that the graduation costume is religion neutral and in the past students have been denied wearing stoles, leis, rosaries, and necklaces at graduation ceremonies.

Young stated that Titman would be allowed to wear the feather for photograps...just not during the graduation ceremony itself. Titman is suing for the right to wear the feather for the whole event including the graduation itself.

Titman is not the first Native American to file for the right to wear the eagle feather at graduations...
a federal court judge in Tulsa, Oklahoma denied a student the right to wear the feather on her cap.
US District Court Chief Judge Gregory Frizell has deemed a school district's religion neutral graduation policy is not a violation of an American's Constitutional rights.
The United States Supreme Court itself has said that religious neutral ceremonies are Constitutional and authorities do not have to make exceptions ot the ruling.

The California state Constitution guarantees religious freedom as long as it does not lead to violence or disturb the peace.

Two hundred years ago, Native Americans were not allowed to wear feathers or any other item that identified them as being an “Indian”; in fact, they were forced to cut their hair, speak only English, and in general discard anything that was a part of their Native culture.

Tags

California Constitution, Christian Titman, Clovis High School, High School Graduation, Pit River Nation, Pit River Tribe, Us Constitution

Meet the author

author avatar Sherrill Fulghum
Sherrill is an award winning journalist with a speciality in music and entertainment. She is also a photographer.

Sherril is a writer for thedailyvoice news.com

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Comments

author avatar Retired
3rd Jun 2015 (#)

What do you mean by graduating from school? Surely degrees are granted by universities, not schools.

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author avatar Sherrill Fulghum
3rd Jun 2015 (#)

You are right John, but this is a high school.

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author avatar Retired
4th Jun 2015 (#)

Do they give degrees at high school in America? That is what the word graduation means.

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author avatar Sherrill Fulghum
4th Jun 2015 (#)

In the US when a student finishes high school, they call it graduating and there is a big ceremony with a cap and gown.

In some areas, they also make a big deal out of a child finishing kindergarten and moving on to first grade with a sort of graduation ceremony.

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author avatar Retired
4th Jun 2015 (#)

As they say over here - only in America!

When I finished school I was there one day and not there the next - that was it!

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author avatar Sherrill Fulghum
4th Jun 2015 (#)

My granddaughter is finishing the fifth grade; the school had a "senior" trip and a fifth grade dance!
Like the man says, if you refer to the fifth grade as your senior year, you might be a redneck.

And to make things worse the summer reading list for the kids entering the sixth grade is on a fourth grade level. My granddaughter reads on an eleventh grade level.

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