The family of a teenage boy in York, Pa., is upset after he was told to remove his Black Lives Matter face mask before walking at his high school graduation.
“I don’t know what to do right now. I’m so mad. I can’t believe they just did that to me and they put my health at risk, “ 18-year-old Dean Holmes told WGAL. Holmes said that shortly before he was set to walk down the aisle of St. Joseph Church in York to receive his diploma, officials at York Catholic High School stopped him and told him he had to remove his mask because it said “Black Lives Matter.”
“The school tried to say that no one can wear masks, but other students clearly did,” Holmes told WGAL. Holmes’ father, John, was understandably upset about the decision and felt the school put his son at risk for no reason. “If something happens to him, what are they gonna say, ‘Our bad?’ No, not your bad. You were wrong,” John told the news outlet.
The school decided to use face shields in lieu of masks and sent a letter to parents informing them of the decision. The school said the other two students wearing masks at the ceremony asked for permission in advance but the letter made no mention of permission being a requirement. The school has since issued a response about the incident on its website.
From York Catholic High School:
Each graduate was given a face shield to be worn in lieu of a face mask. Graduates gathered outside the church prior to processing inside. They were checked in, asked several questions regarding exposure to COVID-19, and temperature checked. Two other graduates chose to wear a solid face mask with no writing in addition to the actual shield and sought permission in advance to do so.
The graduate mentioned in the statement by the parent did not seek permission to wear a face mask in addition to the face shield, nor was the face mask worn at all during the 45 minutes prior to the processional portion of the ceremony. It was not until the last minute, right before entering the church, that the face mask with writing was put on. York Catholic administration directed the face mask to be removed privately, away from the other graduates and guests.
Holmes disputes the claim he wasn’t wearing his mask until the ceremony, saying he was wearing the mask as soon as he arrived at St. Jo’s and while he hung out with his friends outside the church before the ceremony. In the statement, the school said that it was tradition for all caps and gowns to not have any messaging and that the problem wasn’t the message itself.
You know, I think being in the midst of a public health crisis might just outweigh some outdated rules on messaging, but maybe that’s just me. Also, how do you not know that asking someone to remove a Black Lives Matter mask is simply a bad look at this point?
Holmes has said that his goal with speaking out on the situation is, “to make anyone feel comfortable and safe in their school, in their communities, in their environments. That’s what I want from all this.”