ADA, Okla. – A high school senior says he was told he can’t wear his Native American regalia to graduation, and his mother says they aren’t taking no for an answer.
Two Oklahoma tribes have recently started awarding students with honor cords for when they walk across the stage.
According to one family, the Latta School District told them this new addition is against the dress code policy and there will be no exceptions.
It’s a rite of passage when you graduate.
“Wearing these things is acknowledging that this is the step to a higher education,” senior Tvli Birdshead said.
Tvli Birdshead and his mom said they aren’t afraid to put up a fight these last few weeks at Latta High.
The senior hopes to wear his Native American regalia on Graduation Day, including his Chickasaw Nation honor cord and his beaded cap and feather.
“It was a flat out no,” mother Taloa Birdshead said.
The Birdshead legacy runs deep.
The 18-year-old is a member of five different tribes.
“Wearing these things just have a whole different meaning to me,” Birdshead said.
The family said they’ve had several meetings with school officials but still no budge.
They tell us he won’t be allowed to wear any of his regalia at graduation.
News 4 has been trying to reach the administration since Friday, but our calls have not been returned.
“I informed the superintendent that this is an honor for his academic achievement,” Birdshead said.
It’s just really upset my family.”
Birdshead said she reached out to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) where a representative has been assigned to her case.
She hopes the decision will be reversed.
If not, there’s a school board meeting slated in early May where Birdshead said she plans to attend.
“It would be an opportunity for them to be the first one in this area to open that door and honor these kids in that way” Birdshead said.
Chickasaw Nation released this statement to News 4 regarding the new cords: “We hope these cords serve as a symbol of that pride and source of encouragement for years to come and we hope that all institutions recognize our intent.”
Tvli’s graduation is scheduled for late May.