HOUSTON – A ban on “Black Lives Matter” face masks at Needville High School has some parents and students accusing the school and district of bias and silencing students trying to express their first amendment rights to free speech.
Senior Calista Martinez, 17, says she was sent to the principal’s office on Aug. 31 because she wore a mask that sported the letters “BLM” on it.
“It’s a movement that’s going around the world and I feel like it’s serious. People should know more about it. I want people of color to know I’m with them, I’m standing up for them,” Martinez said in an interview with KPRC 2.
When she arrived at the school office, Martinez said an assistant principal told her to take the mask off.
“He told me that it was controversial and it’s going to create conflict so he didn’t want me to wear it,” she said.
She says she questioned his rationale and asked why other students are allowed to wear masks that say “Trump” on them, apparently in support of President Donald Trump.
“He said ‘that’s our president so that’s OK,’” Martinez said.
An image posted to TikTok appears to show a girl identified by other Needville High School students as a fellow student, wearing a “Trump” mask inside of a classroom at the school.
“I don’t understand why they can wear their masks and support what they believe and I can’t support what I believe. I just want to have a voice when other people can’t. I want to stand up for other people’s beliefs but who are too scared to say it because we live in Needville,” Martinez said.
The Needville Independent School District did not answer KPRC 2′s specific questions regarding students being allowed to wear “Trump” masks. However, Superintendent Curtis Rhodes issued the following statement:
“The district is working through several novel issues as students return to school during the pandemic, including the requirement to wear face masks. I have learned that a student came to school wearing a confederate flag and that student was told it was not permitted. When a student wore a Black Lives Matter face mask, that student was told the same thing – that face mask was not permitted. The district recognizes that it is important to provide students with guidance regarding what face masks are permitted and which are not. The district is in the process of reviewing its dress code and will issue additional guidance to students as necessary. It is the district’s primary goal to re-open school in a safe manner with as few disruptions as possible.”